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October 20, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

Mmegionline: Magosi welcome landmark ruling on women’s rights

GOTHATAONE MOENG
STAFF WRITER

Speaking to Mmegi yesterday, Kgosi Puso Gaborone of Batlokwa, who is also the chairperson of the Ntlo ya Dikgosi, acknowledged that current times and circumstances dictate that dikgosi look at some cultural practices in a manner different to how they were viewed traditionally.

Kgosi Gaborone said that in some cases people, need to be informed by current trends and the peculiarities of the situation even though it is important to preserve traditional practices.”These days, if a family has daughters and a son, even if the daughters get married, you need to ask yourself what happens to them if their marriages end in divorce? Where would they go?” he asked rhetorically.

Family property can be entrusted to one sibling with the knowledge that it belongs to all family children, he added.Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of the Balete said that in the past, it was customary to give property to sons, with the understanding that daughters would be married away.  However, in recent years when deciding on inheritance matters, the Bamalete have handed property to both sons and daughters. This is informed by particular cases and who deserves what part of the inheritance.

Kgosi Kgari II of the Bakwena welcomed the judgement, saying that if the High Court has made the decision, the customary courts have to comply. Dingake’s judgement on Friday overturns a Ngwaketse customary law that prevents daughters from inheriting property from their parents. He described the law as unfairly discriminatory to women.

“The law is biased against women, with the result that women have limited inheritance rights as compared to men, and the daughters living in their parents’ homes are liable to eviction by the heir when the parents die. This gross and unjustifiable discrimination cannot be justified on the basis of culture,” he said.

The judge said what is particularly objectionable about the customary law he overturned is the underlying message that women are lesser beings than men and that they are inferior to men.”The adverse effects of the above status that results in daughters being evicted to pave way for a male heir, communicates the unacceptable and chilling message that men and women are not equal before the law. It is my considered view that the Ngwaketse customary law has no place in a democratic society that subscribes to the supremacy of the constitution- a constitution that entrenches the right to equality,” he said.

Dingake delivered the landmark decision in a case in which four women, Edith Mmusi, Bakhani Moima, Jane Lekoko and Mercy Ntshekisang were challenging a decision of the Customary Court of Appeal that their nephew, Molefhi Ramantele should inherit their family home to their exclusion as family siblings.

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One Comment

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  1. silver price / Nov 2 2012 2:03 pm

    The respondents argue that though under the Ngwaketse customary law the youngest son inherits the family home, the daughters are still permitted under the law to inherit other aspects of the estate, such as the household utensils and goods. They further argue that even if this rule is found to infringe the right to equality, the violation is justified as this is the cultural rule within the community.

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