Customary Marriages Amendment Bill goes to Parliament

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Cabinet has approved the submission of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill of 2019 to Parliament.

The Bill brings Section 7(1) and (2) of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (RCMA), 1998 (Act 120 of 1998) in line with the judgments of the Constitutional Court, which declared the sections constitutionally invalid. The sections discriminated unfairly against women in customary marriages.

Addressing a Post Cabinet media briefing in Cape Town, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu on Thursday explained that the Bill provides for equal treatment of women in pre-Act monogamous and polygamous customary marriages. 

“The amendments eliminate the gender-based discrimination in polygamous marriages entered into before the commencement of the RCMA of 1998. Spouses will now have joint and equal proprietary rights over marital property,” Mthembu said.

The Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (RCMA) became law on 15 November 2000.

The RCMA recognises all customary marriages that were valid under customary law. This includes those marriages that were regarded as invalidated by the Black Administration Act.

Further, customary marriages under the Transkei Marriage Act (TMA) could co-exist with a civil marriage out of community of property. All those marriages, if they were valid under the TMA, are recognised by the RCMA.

In terms of section 4(3)(a) of the Act, customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the Act, which are not already registered in terms of any other law, had to be registered within a period of 12 months after the commencement of the Act, or within such a period as the Minister may from time to time prescribe by notice in the Gazette.

Section 4(3)(b) of the Act provides that marriages entered into after the commencement of the Act must be registered within a period of three months after the conclusion of the marriage or within such period as the Minister may from time to time prescribe by notice in the Gazette.

In terms of Notice No. 1 000, published in Government Gazette 38290 dated 12 December 2014, the period in terms of which a customary marriage could be registered in terms of both 4(3)(a) and 4(3)(b) of the Act was extended up to 31 December 2016. – SAnews.gov.za

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