Local judge’s new book focuses on customary law

2018-06-07 16:33
KZN Deputy Judge President Isaac Madondo (left) hands Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha (centre) and Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo copies of his book at the official book launch yesterday evening at the Bessie Head Library in Pietermaritzburg.

KZN Deputy Judge President Isaac Madondo (left) hands Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha (centre) and Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo copies of his book at the official book launch yesterday evening at the Bessie Head Library in Pietermaritzburg. (Ian Carbutt)

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Deputy KZN Judge President Isaac Madondo believes it is time that customary law receives appropriate treatment and recognition as a constitutionally recognised source of law.

He was speaking ahead of his official book launch on Wednesday evening at the Bessie Head Library in Pietermaritzburg.

Titled Role of Traditional Courts in the Justice System, the self-published book focuses on customary law practice and the Constitution; and also on the role of traditional courts in the justice system, acting within the Constitution.

Said the judge: “We are no longer living like in the olden days, there are a number of changes and people are living together and so on.

“It is time now that customary law receives appropriate treatment … it regulates the lives of millions of people in South Africa.

“Everybody must be conversant with it now because it can’t be wished away. It is part of law. It applies throughout with no limitation … the distinction is that it allows more than one marriage.”

Judge Madondo said the idea to write a book had been suggested to him by Judge Esther Steyn.

It all began in 2016 when he was approached by the Department of Traditional Affairs and the premier’s office to advise on SA customary issues relating to isinduna (traditional headmen).

“I started drafting the document. The response was overwhelming to such an extent that the SA Judicial Education Institute also used that paper to train amakhosi … I was then invited to amakhosi training and I made a presentation there.”

The judge said he then realised there was a big gap in the application of law since the change of the political system and the introduction of the new Constitution. “Our customary law is under-developed and was somehow allowed to degenerate. In certain instances it is not aligned with the Constitution nor is it aligned with the social change for it to keep pace with that change. I realised there is a great need for a document of this nature.”

The judge added that he spoke to his colleagues. Judge Steyn, who edited the document, said it could be developed into a book.

The book was then published in November and about 300 copies have been sold. It is available at Adams bookshops and from Judge Madondo.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  book launch

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