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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Al Jama-ah proposes bill for recognition of Muslim marriages

The Constitutional Court in June 2022 confirmed a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling, which legally recognised Muslim marriages.

Al Jama-Ah leader and Member of Parliament Ganief Hendricks said the Registration of Muslim Marriages Bill will assist government to comply with a Constitutional Court order that Shari’ah marriages are valid South African marriages.

Hendricks is expected to table the proposed bill in front of the home affairs portfolio committee on Tuesday.

Constitutional ruling

Hendricks said his party also wants the Home Affairs Department to implement a constitutional ruling and amend a circular that will enable the department to recognise Muslim marriages.

“The circular which the department released after the ConCourt order has been found non-complaint with the judgement by Al Jama-Ah, which we want to rectify so that not a day longer than necessary must the dignity of Muslim wives be harmed.”

Muslim Marriages Bill

Hendricks has appealed to the portfolio committee to adopt a motion of desirability for the bill so that it can be voted on in Parliament this year.

“Muslim marriages, because it is out of community, requires a contract, and a notarial deed which is costly. Al Jama-Ah and Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi have agreed that legislation should rule out such costs for a contract and notarial deed; and they too agreed that married couples will only be required to complete a special form at the department’s front desk,” he said.

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Hendricks added that the party is aware that lawyers and notaries “may object to bill as they will lose these revenues”.

“But we ask them to ‘bite the bullet’ as most Muslims cannot afford the high costs of a marital contract and a notarial deed. Most lawyers have not reduced their fees over the years to assist indigent Muslims and 90% of married couples are non-compliant creating hardships in the event of death.”

ConCourt ruling

The ConCourt in June 2022 confirmed a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling, which legally recognised Muslim marriages, and declared certain sections of the Marriage Act and Divorce Act unconstitutional.

The court gave Parliament a June 2024 deadline to adjust the legislation.

In 2018, the Western Cape High Court found the state had a constitutional obligation to recognise Muslim marriages.

The state appealed the judgment in the SCA, and lost.

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