Bill puts an end to inheritance gender discrimination

The National Assembly on Wednesday approved amendments to customary law that will make it possible for women born out of customary marriages to inherit from their deceased parents’ estate.

The Reform of Customary Law of Succession Bill, which was unanimously supported by all parties, will see provisions of the current legislation, allowing only the eldest son to inherit the estate of the deceased head of a family, being repealed.

All children born out of customary marriages, irrespective of their gender, will now be able to claim a share of their deceased parents’ estate in accordance with intestate succession laws.

Addressing the National Assembly during a debate on the measure, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla said the Bill represents a huge step in the country’s transformation process.

“It introduces fundamental changes to the customary law of succession in that it aims to abolish the customary rule of primogeniture in so far as it applies to the law of succession and to bring it in line with the Constitution,” she said.

It was abundantly clear that the current customary succession law needed to be overhauled as it discriminated against women and children.

The measure will ensure that customary practices are not discriminatory.

“This Bill will achieve equality for the most marginalised in our society, particularly women and children,” Mabandla said.

The National Assembly also passed an additional two pieces of legislation relating to powers of traditional leaders—the National House of Traditional Leaders Bill and the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill.

The Inkatha Freedom Party opposed the two Bills, saying the measures disregarded the uniqueness of the KwaZulu-Natal monarchy.

“These two Bills impose a uniform system across the country, which is foreign and inimical to the traditions, history and needs of KwaZulu-Natal,” the party said in a statement.—Sapa

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