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Recognition of Customary Marriages Bill Under the Spotlight

June 12, 2020

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

The justice and correctional services minister, Ronald Lamola, has welcomed the recent passing of two amendment bills by the national assembly (NA).

This week, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill and the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill were passed by the NA and sent to the national council of provinces for concurrence.

The minister described the two bills as designed to “remedy laws which have both had deeply layered patriarchal effects on our society”.

“As our constitutional democracy evolves, it must expeditiously address toxic masculinity which still exists and simmers at the core of our society”, he said.

As regards the Prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill, the minister emphasised that the proposed legislation will encourage survivors of sexual offences to report the incidents even if they occurred many years ago.

He also highlighted that the amendment bill “ensures that crimes which relate to the common law offence of bribery and the offence of corruption in terms of the Corruption Act, 1992 (Act 94 of 1992) and offences related to the acquisition of a private interest, being an accessory to corruption, or aiding and abetting corruption in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004 (Act 12 of 2004) are also no longer subject to a time limitation in order to institute a prosecution”.

In terms of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill, the minister indicated that the proposed legislation provides that the proprietary consequences of a customary marriage for spouses in more than one customary marriage, entered into before the commencement of the act, are that the spouses in such a marriage have joint and equal ownership and other rights, as well as equal rights of management and control over marital property.

“As a free and democratic society, we must forge ahead with great speed to ensure that in all facets of society, the status of women is attuned to the expectations of our constitutional democracy”, he said.