n African Human Rights Law Journal - Customary law and the promotion of gender equality : an appraisal of the decision

Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



This case note examines the South African Constitutional Court's recent decision overturning the customary law rule of male primogeniture in a dispute as to whether a woman could succeed her late father as a tribal chief. The Court overruled the hitherto central doctrine of male primogeniture by upholding a woman's right to equality to become the first female chief to inherit a chieftaincy position since the advent of South Africa's new constitutional dispensation in 1994. The article welcomes the decision as it empowers appropriate traditional authorities to effect incremental developments which are necessary to keep customary law in line with the dynamic and evolving fabric of the South African constitutional state.

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