News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
4 May 2017
6:45 am

Police captain takes late husband’s family to court to be recognised as chief mourner

Ilse de Lange

When she went to meet his family after his death, Mabitsela was told she had no standing in the family and that the family house would be locked.


An Atteridgeville police captain had to obtain an urgent court order to be recognised as a chief mourner at her estranged husband’s funeral and to get family leaders to apologise and cooperate with each other.

Captain Aleta Mabitsela took her late husband Romeo’s family to court after they failed to inform her directly of her husband’s death and made it clear that the family no longer recognised her, and that she would not be permitted to “sit on the mattress” as his wife in terms of their custom.

Judge Stephens Thobane ordered the late Mr Mabitsela’s family to recognise Capt Mabitsela as her late husband’s legal spouse at his funeral over the long weekend.

Her husband’s mother Dolly, sister Tshepiso and other family members were ordered to hand over the keys to his three taxis and their house in Atteridgeville, as well as her late husband’s original documents, to Capt Mabitsela.

The judge ordered the family leaders to arrange and attend a meeting to discuss the disputes between the families and to reach consensus to apologise to each other.

In terms of the court order, Capt Mabitsela will be the primary organiser, decision-maker and convener at her late husband’s tombstone erection at a later date, to be arranged between the two families.

She said in court papers her marriage to her late husband had been tumultuous and she had finally left the family home in 2014 because of his physical and verbal abuse.

She moved into police accommodation. She started divorce proceedings in 2015, but eventually abandoned them and still remained on speaking terms with her husband, although it was not always pleasant.

Mabitsela said her husband used to pick up their daughter every morning for school and she was unaware that he was ill until a week before his death.

His family also did not directly inform her about his death and she had to hear it from her uncle’s wife.

When she went to meet his family after his death, Mabitsela was told she had no standing in the family and that the family house – which she and her brother bought with her husband – would be locked.

She stressed that despite their contentious relationship, she had still been married to her late husband but was now unfairly being treated as an outsider.


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