n Acta Juridica - Lost in translation : family title in Fingo village, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape

Volume 2011, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1346
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2088



Trends in the passage of long-held African freehold land indicate that customary concepts of property were adapted to Western property law in the form of 'family property', a concept permeating newly titled African land. African families tend to self-identify as 'kin', conventionally based on patrilineality with regard to land ownership. In spite of innovative informal adaptations to embrace the rights of women, there are many unresolved tensions regarding the future trajectory of formal property rights. Constitutional Court decisions, in suggesting a framework for modern customary intestate succession, have (tentatively) adopted common-law prescripts that concentrate rights in the conjugal family - a narrower band of potential heirs based on marriage - to protect the rights of women and children. How will emerging property law reconcile (a) diverging views about family identity; and (b) strongly held views that ownership is a corporate family responsibility rather than a vesting of proprietal rights in one or more registered owners?

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