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South Africa : legal resources: Customary Law

Subjects: Law - Foreign Law

Customary Law in South Africa

The 1994 Constitution recognized customary law as being of equal status with common law.
s. 39 (2) When interpreting any legislation, and when developing the common law or customary law, every court, tribunal or forum must promote the spirit, purport and objects of the Bill of Rights.
(3) The Bill of Rights does not deny the existence of any other rights or freedoms that are recognised or conferred by common law, customary law or legislation, to the extent that they are consistent with the Bill.

See Chapter 12 on recognition and role of traditional leaders.

Lanja DJC 'Quite clearly the Constitution itself envisages a place for customary law in our legal system. Certain provisions of the Constitution put it beyond doubt that our basic law specifically requires that customary law should be accommodated, not merely tolerated, as part of South African law, provided the particular rules or provisions are not in conflict with the Constitution' Bhe v Khayelitsha Magistrate [2005] 1 BCLR 1 (CC) [para] 41.

Texts on topic

The Bodleian Social Science Library may well also be collecting in this area.