Customary law

South Africa: Customary Initiation Bill, 2018

The South African Parliament will soon consider a new Customary Initiation Bill. 

The South African Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs gazetted on 16 March 2018 a notice of intention to introduce the Customary Initiation Bill, 2018 in the National Assembly.

The main objectives of the Bill are—

(a) to protect, promote and regulate initiation;

(b) to provide acceptable norms and standards with a view to ensure that initiation takes place in a controlled and safe environment; and

(c) to provide for the protection of life and the prevention of any abuse


South Africa's courts and lawmakers have failed the ideal of cultural diversity

The approach to law reform and judicial lawmaking that I propose is one in which African values are the starting point. This means accepting that African values exist. This might sound obvious. But a great many people deny that they do, or that they have any relevance in a modern society. These values display a different emphasis from the western world view, and South Africans need to accept that they have a positive contribution to make in creating a new society.


By: Thandabantu Nhlapo, University of Cape Town

[Pictured above] South African President Jacob Zuma and Tobeka Madiba, his fifth wife, celebrate their traditional wedding with a dance. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

[Book] African Customary Law in South Africa: Post-Apartheid and Living Law Perspectives

African Customary Law in South Africa

Professor IP Maithufi, Dr Sindiso Mnisi Weeks, Mr Lesala Mofokeng, Dr Dial Ndima, Edited by Professor Chuma Himonga, and Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo

  • The text addresses living customary law precepts and values, offering an insightful, authentic and sensitive approach to the alignment of parallel systems of South African law. This facilitates an understanding of the true purpose, values and efficacy of customary law, and honours the important role which this system of law serves within South African society.
  • The material is presented in a clear and applied manner, in order that it should be accessible, engaging and challenging to readers.


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