News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
1 minute read
27 Sep 2017
6:34 am

Gogo’s victory for rights of women in home ownership squabble

Ilse de Lange

The 69-year-old turned to the High Court in Pretoria when her brother took steps to evict her from her home.

An elderly Mabopane woman has scored a huge legal victory for the rights of thousands of women who have been denied home ownership because of antiquated and sexist legislation.

Mary Rahube, 69, turned to the High Court in Pretoria for relief when her brother, Hedrine Rahube, took steps to evict her from the home where she and her family had been staying for over 37 years.

Under apartheid laws, the property rights of women, particularly in townships, were placed under the custody of men and only an adult male was allowed to acquire property rights.

Rahube’s brother, as the male in the household, became the holder of these rights after their parents died decades ago.

His land tenure right was later automatically converted to full ownership under the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act.

Judge Kollapen ruled that Section 2(1) of the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act of 1991 was unconstitutional and invalid insofar as it automatically converted holders of land tenure rights into owners of property without providing the occupants and affected parties the opportunity to make submissions.

He said Rahube was automatically excluded from any claim to ownership of the property based on her gender, which amounted to gender discrimination and the Act’s conversion of rights was discriminatory.

Judge Kollapen described the consequences of the Act as unfair, unjust and a sexist system of land ownership which was wholly inconsistent with the spirit and tenor of the constitution.

He said it was a matter of great irony that in pursuing the objective of granting ownership rights to those who were previously excluded from acquiring them, the Act operated to exclude women.

The order would have retrospective effect to April 27, 1994, but was suspended for 18 months to allow parliament to introduce a procedure for the determination of rights of ownership.