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Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill Tabled

September 3, 2019

Parliament

3 September 2019

The Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill has been tabled in parliament.

Cabinet approved the proposed legislation at the end of July 2019 for tabling.

In an earlier statement acknowledging the approval, the justice and constitutional development department pointed out that the draft bill brings section 7(1) and (2) of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act of 1998 in line with a 2017 Constitutional Court judgment which declared the provisions constitutionally invalid.

The sections discriminate unfairly against women in customary marriages.

The department called for comment on the draft bill in April 2018.

The bill aims to amend the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998 (Act No. 120 of 1998 (“the Act”), by further regulating the proprietary consequences of customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the Act so as to bring the provisions in this regard in line with judgments of the Constitutional Court which the Court found to be constitutionally invalid because they discriminate unfairly against certain women in customary marriages and to provide for matters connected therewith.

It flows from a Constitutional Court confirmation that a Limpopo High Court order declaring section 7(1) of the act to be constitutionally invalid was the correct decision.

The High Court had ruled that section 7(1) discriminated against women in polygamous customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the act.

The bill aims to:


• amend the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998, so as to further regulate the proprietary consequences of customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the said Act; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The portfolio committee on justice and correctional services will process the bill.