New divorce laws for South Africa waiting for Ramaphosa’s signature

 ·28 Feb 2024

The Divorce Amendment Bill has been passed by the National Council of Provinces and now only needs President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature to become law.

The Bill amends the Divorce Act, which the Constitutional Court in the Women’s Legal Centre Trust v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others said was unconditional as it excluded Muslim marriages.

The non-recognition of Muslim marriages in civil law meant that a person, especially a woman, who is married in terms of Islamic law had no right to seek a divorce from a court.

The interests of Muslim women and minors or dependent children of Muslim Marriages were thus not safeguarded to the same extent as children of other marriages.

The Divorce Act also fails to provide for the redistribution of assets and for the forfeiture of patrimonial benefits on the dissolution of a Muslim marriage in the same manner as other disbanded marriages.

Thus, the Divorce Amendment Bill aims to:

  • To insert a definition of a Muslim marriage,

  • To provide for the protection and to safeguard the interests of dependent and minor children of a Muslim marriage.

  • To provide for the redistribution of assets on the dissolution of a Muslim marriage

  • To provide for the forfeiture of patrimonial benefits of a Muslim marriage.

That said, the Bill does not constitute or replace an Islamic divorce. Those wishing to be granted a religious divorce will still need to follow Islamic law.

Other Bills

The NCOP also sent two other Bills to Ramaphosa, including the Eskom Debt Relief Amendment Bill and the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill.

The Eskom Debt Relief Amendment Bill aims to amend the Eskom Debt Relief Act of 2023, which offers interest-free loans to the embattled power utility.

The new Bill provides for payment of interest by Eskom on amounts advanced as a loan, with the Finance Minister setting the rate of interest.

If Eskom does not comply with the established requirements, the Minister can reduce payments to the SOE.

On the other hand, the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill established a new legal framework for adult private use of cannabis while also narrowing and clarifying the limits related to children and the use and possession of the plant.


Read: Take-home pay increases in South Africa – but storm clouds are gathering

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter