- Until recently, women married under customary law had no rights to marital assets should they divorce
- The Customary Marriage Act was amended in Parliament last month after two separate cases were found to be discriminatory
- The amended act could see improved rights for divorced women married under customary law as well as better legal protection for their children
For the longest time, women married under customary law have not had the same rights to marital assets should they divorce their partners. But two new amendments made to the Customary Marriage act by Parliament last month could mean these women will finally be entitled to equal rights under the law.
According to a previous article by ENCA, until recently women married under customary law before 1998 had no rights to assets if they got divorced. But the Constitutional Court has found these laws limited the rights of women to human dignity, discriminated unfairly against them and their children and ultimately ruled against the old laws in two separate cases.
Parliament's amendments, if passed, will provide much-needed legal protection to South African woman and their children. Where a divorced spouse may not have been entitled to any marital assets under old customary law, now all customary marriages will be treated as being in community of property unless a prenuptial contract has been signed. Their children will also have increased rights to inheritance.
One family law expert has said it’s important that the president signs the new bill into law as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Briefly News previously reported there are so many women in South Africa that just don’t have the means to fight these legal battles. Lerato Sengadi made sure she did not give up the fight and came out victorious. She has dedicated her Supreme Court victory to all the black sisters. It has been a long two years for Lerato.
The legal battle was over the well-known publicist’s status as HHP’s customary wife. The family of her late husband Jabulani, had seen the legal dispute carry on for so long but it has now come to an end.
After all this time, finally, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal lodged by Robert Tsambo, HHP’s father. Tsambo was attempting to have the 2018 South Gauteng High Court ruling that Lerato and Jabulani were married by customary law overturned.
Lerato explained that finally, she could breathe again. When receiving the news, Lerato said she exhaled, making her aware that for almost two years she wasn’t breathing. She expressed that it was the first time since her husband passed that was actually able to feel oxygen fill her lungs.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!