oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Lesotho's African marriage is not a "customary union"

Volume 16, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



In Lesotho marriage is a complex issue as the African marriage has had to co-exist with the civil or Christian marriage imported into Southern African by European missionaries and settlers. This has caused confusion with the result that during 1982 in Theko v Theko the Chief Justice held that a man married by custom can validly marry another wife by civil rites and live happily ever after with all these women as his wives. Two things, in particular, were puzzling in Theko' s case, the first that Cotran C J declared the man a "statutory bachelor", and the second that the monogamous nature of a civil marriage had been entirely ignored. Within three months the Court of Appeal had overruled this decision in the case of Makata v Makata. The effect of this collision of ways of life persists nonetheless.

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