Property relations during and after marriage : a qualitative study of property relations of amaHlubi customary marriages in Maluti region (Eastern Cape).
Magudu, Bulelwa Winifred.
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The property relations of the amaHlubi customary marriages were studied among the women in the Maluti villages around Matatiele. These villages are situated along the border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape of South Africa. These relations were investigated through the use of in-depth interviews with 39 women and six government officials. Of the 39, 26 were individually interviewed and 13 women were in three focus group discussions. The respondents were asked about their experiences and perceptions regarding the current practices in the division of property between the husband and wife. An analysis of these experiences, was carried out and were translated and transcribed into English. It was evident that during marriage there is an assumption among the women that property is equally owned between husband and wife during marriage. Secondly, on the death of the man, the women are allowed to inherit property from their husbands even in the absence of marriage certificates as long as there is enough evidence that the woman is the rightful heir. In addition, it was revealed that a significant proportion of marriages are dissolved informally, without using the traditional and legal structures of dissolution. As a result of this, women do not inherit property from their dissolved marriages. This study reveals infrastructure problems that woman in the area encounter when they need to visit the Home Affairs offices since the Maluti and Matatiele offices are not able to assist them with registration of customary marriages, Resulting in significant number of customary marriages not being registered. The evidence from the study supports the argument that women had equal access to property and its use in the traditional customary marriage. Currently, women's conditions have worsened due to the weakening of traditional structures. Results indicate that positive developments in law have not yet benefited women since property relations in rural areas are mediated by traditional tenure systems and customs. The lack of monitoring the proper implementation of the laws poses another challenge. That has resulted in little being achieved in terms of the provisions of the Customary Marriages Act due to implementation problems.