Court settles wives' legal battle

2015-03-21 09:04

Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria settled a legal battle on Friday between the two wives of a man, who only found out about each other after his death.

Lina Sesi Nhlapo went to court to have her customary marriage to the late Thomas Jack Mahlangu declared valid after the home affairs department refused to register the marriage due to the existence of her husband's civil marriage to another woman, Lillian Mahlangu.

Nhlapo argued that her husband's civil and customary marriage to a second wife was invalid because she had not been aware of the marriage and had not agreed to it in terms of Ndebele customary union laws.

The second wife opposed the application, saying her husband had never told her he was already married.

She claimed her husband's brother Jacob and her uncle were witnesses to the part payment of lobola but her late husband's family submitted he had no brother named Jacob.

Their relationship started in 2005, but ended in 2007 because she could not bear children.

Nhlapo said her late husband's family had never met the second wife and was not aware of her existence. She did not even attend his funeral to pay her respects.

She submitted that she was her husband's only legal customary spouse even though the marriage had never been registered. They had four children together.

According to Nhlapo there had been customary marriage negotiations between the two families and the last payment of the agreed 16 heads of cattle as lobola was made in 2000 in terms of their agreement.

The two families had a big handing-over celebration through the ukuvunula ritual in 1986, cows were slaughtered and her family handed her over to her husband's family. She still lived with her mother-in-law.

Validity of marriage

Judge Daisy Molefe ruled in favour of the first wife, finding that the failure to register the marriage did not affect its validity and that the marriage had been valid.

She set aside the second marriage, finding that Mahlangu's civil marriage to a second woman had contravened the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, which clearly provided that no spouse in a customary marriage could enter into a marriage under the Marriage Act while the customary marriage still existed.

A valid Ndebele customary marriage could also not be concluded without the active participation of the first wife, she added.

Molefe said the man's second customary marriage had not been celebrated in accordance with customary law, his new wife was not handed over to his family through a traditional ceremony and the customary marriage therefore also did not comply with the Customary Marriages Act.

She said it was very strange that the second wife was not curious to meet her husband's family during their marriage and did not even attend his funeral.

The judge declared that the first wife's customary marriage was valid and declared the second civil marriage null and void.

She instructed the Master of the High Court to withdraw the second wife's appointment to handle her late husband's estate and ordered her to disclose all funds she had collected and pay it over into the trust account of the first wife's attorney.

The second wife was also ordered to pay the legal costs of the court battle.

  • Kholo Warren Jesus - 2015-03-21 09:15

    falling in love with two women and marrying both means you are MAD..... your heart is only meant for one individual.....

      Themba Monare - 2015-03-21 09:26

      Says who?

      Rick Meijer - 2015-03-21 09:37

      Oh says the lord of course.. that guy that already lives for billions of years and tells you what to do hey... well, i have some text for that lord of yours, and it ain't good, so tell him to come visit me

      Sipho Tshakela - 2015-03-22 08:56

      Kholo, that's your perception, ask me. Perhaps you have never been in a multiple partners type of romance. As a matter of fact, people should desist from interfering with other people's cultural practices, norms and beliefs. Stay within your boundaries, stop enchroaching.

  • Valentine Masina - 2015-03-21 09:28

    Talk about adultery. Probably this second woman is lying. We know these so called second wives. Married but never met family... Never attended funeral. Shocking. She is the Kelly kind

      sthembize.zulu - 2015-03-21 14:28

      She knows she was never married to the late man; she's well aware she was a side chick/inyatsi

  • Cebolenkosi Ntobeko Ngcobo - 2015-03-21 09:43

    Moral of the story marry one woman and don't practice polygomy

      Sipho Tshakela - 2015-03-22 08:45

      Cebo, one can marry as many as long as one's house is in order... As long as you do things by the book, you can afford them, you are transparent. Nothing wrong with polygamy as far as our culture and traditions are concerned, remember the constitution affords us such a traditional practice. Don't get carried away by this we are dealing with a scoundrel not a polygamist.

  • criticallyhonest - 2015-03-21 09:47

    Multiple wives must have been essential in the "old" days when life expectancy was way down maybe as low as mid-twenties. Especially when sons were needed to fight and herd and women were needed to cook. But today, with life expectancy pushing to and beyond a century, with fighting limited to throwing poo over a statues and burning tyres...with men in the kitchen and women working for education and more. and now with effective methods of birth control accessible by government grant how can you possibly justify multiple wives?

  • Mark Jack Deppe - 2015-03-21 10:41

    I am lost, can someone please explain to me the position of our current President. Is he not in a polygamous relationship??

      Sihle Oliphant - 2015-03-21 16:57

      All wives knew about each other and approved of another wife joining the club and traditional steps were followed to the T. Therefore legal.

  • Jack Junior Kgorutle - 2015-03-21 11:21

    who is gonna be my second wife?

  • DarrenCooper68 - 2015-03-21 11:42

    Why have a registration system at all. How is it that these useless people that refuse to comply with legal requirement, then use the legal system to enforce something they didn't comply with. Let the fools suffer the consequence of their inaction. It will take a month or 2, then people will realise their folly and comply

      DarrenCooper68 - 2015-03-21 20:29

      I cannot draw pictures for you, you will have read, comprehend and kinda work it out for yourself.

  • Boetie Van Zyl - 2015-03-21 11:48

    On a lighter note :Why a man has a wife is a mystery? Why a man has 2 wives is a bigamystery?

      Adele Cape Town - 2015-03-21 23:57

      Boetie, you are funny!!

  • SGoodman - 2015-03-21 12:13

    I struggle to manage with one wife, let alone two.

      John Kahn - 2015-03-21 12:47

      Too weak

      Tebogo Kgarosi - 2015-03-21 13:01


      Valentine Mo - 2015-03-21 13:05

      Men with their lies one realise after years of marriage that she is the 3rd wife. One needs to ask herself what business meetings,conferences, team building outing, business course trips actually exist

  • Andrew Moore - 2015-03-21 13:19

    It is high time that all custom bases marriages african/Islamic etc.) be CONSTITUTIONALLY recognised as legal marriages and treated with the same respect that civil marriages are accepted. This is not just a legal matter but a constitutional matter as well. Home Affairs should start playing the game.

  • Thandeka Cele - 2015-03-21 19:06


  • Sydney Zizi Tyeku - 2015-03-21 22:46

    I just wonder how did this men manage to dribble past first n never noticed anything for years to the second wife n dribble back to the first again n the second wife not noticing whether this men was going back to another wife for years.He must b a player or a genius.Or Zuma was drafring his roster as he is the only person on earth can do that n still succesful.

  • Sipho Tshakela - 2015-03-22 09:21

    This man crooked his way to death leaving behind problems, frustrations and animosity. His legacy is somewhat worthless, his cowardly and yet cruel acts leave much to be desired. Look, his the so called loved ones are battling it out in a court of law due to his stupidity, he was not a man but an animal. He has tarnished the image of our cultural beliefs and practices in as far as polygamy is concerned. To be quite frank, he was more into hooliganism than polygamy.

  • pages:
  • 1