A husband who tried to find a loophole not to have to officially divorce his wife has denied that they were married in terms of customary law, says a Pretoria News report.

He claimed the woman was ‘not officially handed over’ to his family.

The wife, however, turned to the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) for an order declaring that a customary marriage did exist between them. She also wanted an order forcing Home Affairs to register the customary marriage now, 17 years after they tied the knot.

The wife told the court she recently decided to institute divorce proceedings, but the husband felt this was not necessary as ‘no marriage was concluded in the first place’.

Judge Selemeng Mokose said the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act required that both had to agree to marry each other and the marriage had to be negotiated and celebrated in accordance with customary law.

Section 4 of the Act stated that the failure to register a customary marriage did not affect the validity of that marriage.

Mokose said as long as the first two requirements of a customary law marriage – that both parties must be over 18 and agree to the marriage – were met, all was in order.

In this case the families as well as the couple agreed to the marriage and it was thus valid.

Full Pretoria News report