Towards an Afrikan Approach in Resolving the Conundrum Between a Civil and Customary Marriage




Customary marriages, family property, King Zwelithini, KwaZulu-Natal, polygynous marriages, Afrikan approach


Since the dawn of colonialism, customary marriages have been considered inferior to civil marriages. The treatment of customary law as inferior, has racial connotations, as the colonists viewed Africans as barbaric. Since the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 took effect, the Constitutional Court pledged a commitment to afford Afrikan jurisprudence an independent identity to prevent it from being viewed as inferior to the common law. Section 10 of the Recognition of Customary Marriages is problematic because it states that a customary marriage can be overridden by a civil marriage. The courts’ argument that customary law and common law enjoy equal status is not true when one considers how courts have relied on the common law in customary law disputes. South Africa needs a decolonised option because judicial pronouncements and legislation have reaffirmed the superior state of the common law, as introduced by the colonists. Developments in the wake of the death of king Zwelithini, who was in a polygynous marriage, have implications for the debate whether a customary marriage concluded after a civil ceremony is valid, or whether a civil marriage and a customary marriage could co-exist. A solution is needed for this conundrum, because declaring customary marriages invalid is not beneficial to women married under this system.

Setsopolwa (Northern Sotho)

Go tloga mola go bago le bokoloniale, manyalo a setšo a bonwe bjalo ka a maemo a fase go manyalo a semmušo. Go bona molao wa setšo bjalo ka wa maemo a fase, go na le seemo sa kgethologanyo ya semorafe, ka ge bao ba tlišitšego bokoloniale ba bone MaAfrika bjalo ka batho bao ba sego ba hlabologa. Go tloga mola Molaotheo wa Repabliki ya Afrika Borwa, wa 1996 o thomago go šoma, Kgorotsheko ya Molaotheo e ile ya tshephiša go fa tshepedišo ya semolao ya Seafrika boitšhupo bjo bo ikemego bja go e thibela go bonwa bjalo ka ya maemo a fase go molao wa setlwaedi. Karolo ya 10 ya Temogo ya Manyalo a Setšo e na le bothata ka gobane e bolela gore lenyalo la setšo le ka tšeelwa legato ke lenyalo la semmušo. Ntlha ye e tšweletšwago ke kgorotsheko ya gore molao wa setšo le molao wa setlwaedi di a lekana ga se nnete ge motho a lemoga ka fao dikgorotsheko di tshephilego kudu molao wa setlwaedi ka dithulanong tša molao wa setšo ka gona. Afrika Borwa e hloka kgetho ye e hlokago bokoloniale ka gobane diphetho tša semolao le melao e tiišeditše leswa maemo a godimo a molao wa setlwaedi, ka ge o tsebagaditšwe ke batho bao ba tlišitšego bokoloniale. Diphetogo tšeo di bilego gona ka morago ga lehu la kgoši Zwelithini, yo a bego a le ka lenyalong la basadi ba bantši, di na le diabe go ngangišano ya ge eba lenyalo la molao wa setlwaedi leo le phethilwego ka morago ga lenyalo la semmušo le molaong, goba ge eba lenyalo la semmušo le lenyalo la setšo a ka kgona go phethagatšwa ka nako e tee. Tharollo e a nyakega mo kgakanegong ye, ka gobane gore manyalo a setšo ga a molaong ga go hole basadi bao ba nyetšwego ka fase ga lenyalo le.


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How to Cite

Manthwa, Aubrey. “Towards an Afrikan Approach in Resolving the Conundrum Between a Civil and Customary Marriage”. Southern African Public Law, 19 pages.



Received 2022-02-01
Accepted 2022-06-11
Published 2022-09-29