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Little-known sexist apartheid law declared ‘unconstitutional’ by judge

Judge Jody Kollapen ran the rule over an obscure piece of housing legislation from the apartheid era this week, and suspended its implementation for the next 18 months

We’re talking about Section 2(1) of the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act 112 of 1991. Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it? Well, this awkward piece of property law has stubbornly been blocking women from gaining title deeds to their own properties.

Mantshabelle Mary Rahube, 69, brought forward an application to the Pretoria High Court. She was forced into this after her brother claimed ownership of the property under the initial grants of land tenure rights. Although, her case was initially rejected by the minister of rural development and land reform. However, Rahube was in no mood to give up her home of 37 years.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) took her cause to Gauteng’s highest authority. They cited the Land Tenure Rights Act clear gender discrimination. The property rights of women – particularly in townships – were placed in the custody of men. Acknowledging that this meant women could not obtain deeds of grant or certificates in their own names, Judge Kollapen declared the proclamation as being ‘characterised by sexist language’. He then suspended the law.

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