The case of a South African man who is applying to inherit his long-term male partner’s estate has wrapped up.
Chef Mark Gory has asked that the Pretoria High Court declare unconstitutional a section of the law that excludes the right of a same-sex partner to inherit his or her deceased partner’s estate. The law, which automatically grants the estate to the surviving partner, relates to married people who die without a will or children.
Gory has attempted to show to the court that he and Henry Brooks were permanent long-term partners in a relationship and that they should thus have the same rights as a married couple. He has also asked the court to invalidate the sale of the house in which they lived.
Brooks’s parents are opposing the application. Their son died suddenly almost a year ago without leaving a will. Gory says that he and Brooks bought the house together (although it was registered in Brooks’s name), shared expenses, lived together and even performed a commitment ceremony, which was attended by Brooks’s parents.
After the death, Brooks’s parents apparently forced Gory out of the house. Gory’s legal counsel, D I Berger SC, has claimed that the curator of the estate, Daniel Kolver, did little to resolve the dispute and treated his claim with contempt.
“He was desperate. He was grieving for a lost partner. He had a curator against him and his partner’s parents coming into his house and taking things. He did not want to lose the home he had built up with his partner,” said Berger.
Judge Willie Hartzenberg agreed that it was clear from correspondence between the parties that Kolver was “arrogant and sarcastic”, did not attempt to resolve the matter in sensible matter, and that while he might have been doing his legal duty, he “did so without thinking”.
The parties will now wait for the court’s judgement.