Media Advisory: Botswana Court to Hear Appeal to Decision Allowing Women to Inherit Under Customary Law

Salc : Staff Writer

Gaborone – On Friday 19 July, the Court of Appeal in Gaborone, Botswana will hear arguments in Ramantele v Mmusi and Others, an appeal from a High Court decision striking down as unconstitutional a customary law denying women the ability to inherit the family home. In addition to the parties, the Attorney General has intervened in the matter asking the Court to uphold the customary law.

“This case will address whether women will continue to be second-class citizens in Botswana or whether Botswana is serious about ensuring equality for all women in the country,” said Priti Patel, Deputy Director at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). SALC is supporting the case.

What:             Oral arguments in Ramantele v Mmusi and Others, a case challenging women’s ability to inherit under customary law

When:             Friday, 19 July 2013 at 9:30am

Where:            Court of Appeal, Gaborone, Botswana

This case is an appeal from an October 2012 High Court decision which struck down an Ngwaketse customary law providing that the youngest son inherits the family home. The High Court held that the customary law as applied was a violation of the right to equality guaranteed under section 3(a) of the Constitution.

At issue is whether a daughter can inherit the home. Edith Mmusi, who is 80 years old, claims that she has lived in the family home and has spent her own money on improving the homestead and thus she and her sisters should inherit. This claim is being challenged by her nephew who asserts that his father was given the home by the youngest-born son and thus he is entitled to the property though he has never lived on the property. Mmusi argues that she has no other home and would be left homeless should the property be inherited by her nephew.

The Attorney-General has intervened in the matter and is arguing that the law should stand.

The Court is expected to issue its decision later this year.

Issued by:        The Southern Africa Litigation Centre

For more information:

Priti Patel, SALC:       Tel: + 27 11 587 5065 (o); +27 76 808 0505 (m); Email: pritip@salc.org.za

For live updates from the court:      @Follow_SALC

For background on the case:

https://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/cases/ongoing-cases/mmusi-and-another-v-ramantele-and-another/