On Monday, the Botswana High Court will hear arguments in Mmusi and Others v Ramantele and Another, a case challenging a customary law rule denying daughters the right to inherit the family home.
At issue in the case is a Ngwaketse customary law rule which provides that the youngest son inherits the family home. The applicants argue that this rule denying them the ability to inherit their family home violates their right to equality under section 3 of the Botswana Constitution. They further claim that the daughters have all assisted in the upkeep and expansion of the family home and thus should be permitted to inherit it.
The respondents argue that though under the Ngwaketse customary law the youngest son inherits the family home, the daughters are still permitted under the law to inherit other aspects of the estate, such as the household utensils and goods. They further argue that even if this rule is found to infringe the right to equality, the violation is justified as this is the cultural rule within the community.
The case is an appeal from a decision of the Customary Court of Appeal, which applied the customary law rule, finding the applicants could not inherit the family home.
The case before Justice Dingake will address whether the Ngwaketse rule is an infringement of the Botswana constitution and if so, whether that infringement is justified. Arguments will start at 9:30am at the High Court of Botswana in Lobatse. You can follow live updates from the arguments on SALC’s twitter feed (@Follow_SALC).