About The Traditional Courts Bill

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By Manny De Freitas

Recent traditional legislation: a light of danger at the end of tunnel

The Traditional Courts Bill as well as the Communal Land Rights Act received much negative reaction from civil society when it was introduced in Parliament. In fact the Constitutional Court even declared the Communal Land Rights Act as invalid and it is clear that Traditional Courts Bill is absolutely unconstitutional.

Ever since 2008 it was tabled at the National Assembly this Bill has left most people with a feeling of desperation and concern. Even the upper House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces is finding it hard to conclude their work in this Bill.

There is overall concern with this Bill, examples of these concerns are the fact that under this Bill Traditional Leaders would have more power than what they did in the days of Apartheid and that the Bantustans system of old would be reinforced and entrenched.

The apartheid tribal boundaries would be made official again where autocratically powerful chiefs would rule. Chiefs would unilaterally define customary law outside of our legal system!

It is almost unbelievable that as a country with the most progressive Constitution ever is tabling this Bill which would prejudge against women and children and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and the transgender communities.

It would restrict the access to our legal system as the over 18 milliion rural mostly poor people would be trapped in a traditional justice system that belongs in the middle ages. The worse is that these people would not have a choice to get out of this system. Everyone needs to fight this all the way.


Manny de Freitas is an out and proud member of South Africa's parliament and also the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs for the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.

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