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Recognition of Customary Marriages Bill to be Tabled Soon

August 8, 2019

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

8 August 2019

The Draft Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill will be tabled in parliament soon.

The justice and constitutional development department published the draft bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 42622.

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

In an earlier statement acknowledging the approval, the 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 draft 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.