Sportsman’s foreign wife in custody battle
Family Custody Battle (Photo: Pexels)
European businessman John Schneider-Merck is fighting for the foreign wife of a well-known sports star. The couple are in the throes of a bitter divorce.
The 76-year-old, who is acting on behalf of a European organisation which helps citizens who are in distress worldwide, said it would start a campaign to raise money for her to pay rent and gain custody of her young children with the South African sports star.
City Press cannot name the couple for legal reasons.
Schneider-Merck claimed that between June and July last year, the sportsman removed the children from their mother’s care and she battled to get them back.
“The court granted both parents access to the children. However, they were to alternate time with the kids – three consecutive days with the mother and two with the father in a continuous cycle,” he said, adding that this was difficult for the woman.
Schneider-Merck said he flew to South Africa last month to “rescue” her because her allegedly abusive husband demanded she move out of her northern suburbs home in Johannesburg.
“I could not sleep at night when I found out that my compatriot was homeless. I had to intervene. That is why I flew to South Africa at my own cost,” he said.
He went on to say that he had tried to deal with her husband’s family in a civil manner.
“I have tried to send them several emails asking for peace, but was ignored. This is why I have decided to go public,” he says.
In 1998, Schneider-Merck secured the release of German hostage Andreas Hofer, who was sentenced to death in Iran.
This week, he said the sportsman told his wife to move to a cheaper home. Her R15 000 monthly allowance was also in danger of being stopped by the allegedly cash-strapped star.
“I sent at least R6 500 for her car and washing machine to be fixed. After several attempts at sending emails and text messages begging the sportsman for money, he ignored me. He is exhausting all options to frustrate the poor woman,” he says.
The woman is in South Africa on a spousal visa, which forbids her to work in the country.
“She is penniless and owes R500 000 in legal fees. My organisation will help to fight this battle until the end,” he says.
Schneider-Merck took on the case after one of the woman’s relatives brought it to his attention.
The husband’s lawyer told City Press yesterday that he would only comment if he could read the story prior to publication.
City Press declined and he refused to comment.