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African Customary Law

African Customary Law refers to a usually uncodified legal system developed and practised by the indigenous communities of South Africa. Customary law, prior to colonialism, had its "sources in the practices, traditions and customs of the people." Customary law is fluid, and changes over time and among different groups of people. Recognition of customary law comes through the South African Constitution under section 211, although there is not a "textual connection in the definition of customary law to the communities recognised in section 31(1)."

Court rules against Ingonyama Trust on ownership

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Monday, 03 December 2018
Tags: #African Customary Law #Civil Rights #Litigation #Property Law
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Ingonyama Trust was on the receiving end of a decision by the Land Claims Court, when it ruled his ‘subjects’ were entitled to hold land in their names if they so wish. According to Rapport, the Ingonyama Trust intervened in a successful land claim by Zulu communities over 11 000ha of land adjacent to the trust land.

Mandela daughters take Qunu dispute to top court

Nelson Mandela's family are embroiled in a fresh legal battle over his estate, says a Sunday Times report. Zenani and Zindzi Mandela are heading to the Constitutional Court to challenge their father's decision to leave the family home in Qunu under the custodianship of the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Family Trust.

Customary divorce not always clear-cut

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Friday, 08 June 2018
Tags: #African Customary Law #Family Law #Litigation
Marriages performed under the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act are recognised as legal and may only be dissolved by a court through a divorce. The Star reports this was the opinion of attorney Selwyn Shapiro, who said since the Act came into force and these marriages were now recognised in law, it followed that the union had to be dissolved through divorce.

Top judge urges recognition of customary law

Deputy KZN Judge President Isaac Madondo believes it is time that customary law received appropriate treatment and recognition as a constitutionally recognised source of law.

Eastern Cape kingship dispute back in top court

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Tags: #African Customary Law #Litigation
The ongoing dispute over the rightful heir to the kingship of amaMpondo aseQaukeni in the Eastern Cape, was again before the Constitutional Court yesterday, says TimesLIVE. In 2013, the court set aside the notices that former President Jacob Zuma made in the Government Gazette recognising the kingship of Zanozuko Tyelovuyo Sigcau in 2010 and dismissing that of the incumbent Mpondombini Sigcau.

Traditional marriage issue heads to top court

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Monday, 15 May 2017
Tags: #African Customary Law #Family Law #Litigation
A battle over what constitutes a traditional African marriage is headed to the Constitutional Court. The break-up between former MTN CEO Sifiso Dabengwa and Joburg Theatre CEO Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema led to a 10-year legal fight, with Nduneni-Ngema seeking half of the multimillionaire’s estate, says a Sunday Times report.

Winnie battling for customary law oppressed

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Friday, 27 January 2017
Tags: #African Customary Law #Litigation #Property Law
The SCA has granted special leave to appeal to Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on her claims to the late President's Qunu home on the basis of customary law. Madikizela-Mandela unsuccessfully challenged the decision of the executors to exclude her from the Qunu home's ownership in the Eastern Cape High Court (Mthatha). She also lost the appeal.

Lobola issue heads to SCA

After 10 years of litigation, the lobola conundrum is set to head to the SCA. Joburg City Theatres CEO Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema’s lengthy battle for half of wealthy businessman Sifiso Dabengwa’s estate was dealt yet another blow last week when the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) dismissed her application for leave to appeal, says a Sunday Times report. They would take the matter to the SCA, said Ike Motloung, Nduneni-Ngema’s lawyer.

Next stop SCA after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela appeal dismissed

The Mthatha High Court has dismissed the appeal of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who had laid claim to the Qunu home of former President Nelson Mandela. The court also ordered Madikizela-Mandela to pay the cost of the application, according to a report on The Citizen site. She filed an appeal in April after losing an earlier bid to lay claim to Madiba’s Qunu home in the Eastern Cape. Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyer Mvuzo Notyesi reportedly said they would now petition the SCA.

Unpaid lobola doesn't end customary marriage – ruling

By Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd Published on Friday, 10 June 2016
Tags: #African Customary Law
Customary law had evolved over the years and lobola did not have to be paid in full before a valid customary marriage could be entered into. The Mercury reports this was according to a judge in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) when he declared an Mpumalanga man officially married to a woman who had since died. Ntombi Mbungela died in 2014 and now her daughter, Tubile Mkhonza – executor of her estate – is disputing that Madala Mkabe was her mother’s husband.


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