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Cape High Court

There are several matters regarding Muslim marriages pending before several courts across the country.   This is testament to the fact that Muslim women are struggling to assert their rights because their Muslim marriages and the consequences arising therefrom are not legally recognised.  They have no option but to plead their cases with the courts and the judiciary.  Thus, the Judge President ordered the consolidation of these matters, and given their importance, three judges have been appointed to hear the matter.

For more details contact : Sheila Matroos 

Harneker Matter: Monday 14 August
Cape High Court Declaring section 2 (1) ( c) of the Wills Act unconstitutional as it does not recognise the equality rights of spouses married in terms of Muslim rites. The provision does not allow the children of the spouse (mother) married in terms of Muslim rites to repudiate their share in the Estate in favour of their mother if the deceased was also married in terms of civil law.
Admitted as Amicus in Saffer
The WLC intervened as amicus in the matter, Michelle Saffer v The Head of Department, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and Others, brought by Equal Education Law Centre. Equal Education challenged the implementation of the exemption of school fees provided for in Section 40(1) of the Schools Act and the regulations thereto. Judgment was handed down in September 2016.  The State appealed. The court accepted the WLC’s argument with regard to reading the question of liability as per s40 (1) SA 1996 should be read as joint, rather than joint and several liability.
Postponement of the SJC Matter: This matter was due to be heard on16, 17 and 21 August.  However it has been postponed to 28-30 November.
The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) is taking the Minister of Police to court over the allocation of policing resources in Khayalitsha.  The Women’s Legal Centre is providing a gendered perspective on how the lack of access to police resources is unfairly affecting women. 
Confirmation Application Levenstein
Matter set down for hearing on 14 November 2017 in Constitutional Court. In the matter of Levenstein, application was made to the Constitutional Court  in June 2017 for confirmation of the High Court  judgement which declared s 18 of  the Criminal Procedure Act   unconstitutional (prescription of sexual offences, other than rape, after 20 years). WLC has been cited as a respondent. While WLC supports the application of confirmation, we submitted  our application to adduce further evidence in July 2017  to  substantiate our argument that the declaration should include all sexual offences, and should apply irrespective if the sexual offence is perpetrated against an adult or child.

7 AUGUST  2017


7 AUGUST 2017

RELIGIOUS MARRIAGES WORKSHOP with South African Families and Faith Institute ( SAFFI) – Cape Town 





14, 15 16 AUGUST


Contact Aniela at shukumisacampaign@gmail.com to attend.



LAUNCH  OF THE WE CANNOT BE SILENT Multi Media exhibition & Panel discussion – Castle of Goodhope, Cape  Town


UCT LAW FACULTY SYMPOSIUM to address critical issues relating to violence against women. WLC forms part of panel  discussing Strategic Litigation to Improve State Responses to Sexual Violence. The panelists include Nomboniso Gasa - UCT, Advocate Bronwyn Pithey - WLC, Lisa Vetten - Wits, and Mandi Mudarikwa - LRC.

Sex work in South Africa must be decriminalised
in a democratic society, this cannot be put on the back burner any longer. Read the opinion piece by Janie Booth and Victoria Wang below

Great article on Daily Maverick
by our director Seeham Samaai titled "Constitutional Court farm eviction ruling reinforces apartheid spatial violence".


This month we said farewell to our inters who joined us from Duke University and Harvard.  In the short time they were with us they made an incredible contribution to the Centre, and we would like express our sincerest gratitude.

From left to right:  Victoria Wang, Mumbi Kanyogo, Janie Booth and Mihret Woldesemait.



The WLC in partnership with Pro Bono presented a legal education workshop to learners at Matthew Goniwe High School. The presentation focused on gender based violence including rape, maintenance and denial of paternity.


This month at the WLC we focused on how state capture affects women.  Our interns from Duke University, Janie Booth and Victoria Wang, analysed Betrayal of the Promise:  How South Africa is being stolen 

Our analysis highlights the effects of state capture on the lives of every citizen, rich or poor. Half of the people in South Africa live in poverty, and this directly hurts the poor. Investing in human rights is important to ensure that all people have access to clean water, food, healthcare, education, and housing.  Continue reading:


We have formed a great partnership with the ENS Africa Pro Bono Office, and this month we did a presentation on Relationship Rights.

On 19 August the WLC and Positive Muslims will be presenting workshop on Recognition of Muslim Marriages.


The Women’s Legal Centre, formed part of the organising committee at PILG and organised five panels that highlighted women’s issues in accessing the justice system:

Police accountability about the withdrawal of sexual offence cases

This panel explored the challenges regarding violence against women.  They discussed the legal framework which informs decision making by the police in the investigation and withdrawal of cases, the rights of victims when withdrawing a case, the possible application of administrative procedures, access to information, and the police’s use of discretion in usurping prosecutorial function.

Listen to Dr Genine Josias from the Khayelitsha Thuthuzela Forensic Centre talk about policing resources. 

The Domestic Partnership Bill - striving towards the recognition of de facto co-habiting relationships.

This panel discussed the inconsistency of the law regarding domestic partnerships that affects millions of SA women living in co-habiting relationships.

The panellists emphasised that the Bill was drafted in 2008 to give legal protection to parties in a domestic relationship or partnership, which is a permanent and stable relationship between two persons who choose not to marry, but share the same responsibilities and obligations of a married couple. The Bill was shelved for almost eight years and it is unclear whether the Bill will ever become exposed without serious government lobbying by family law practitioners, progressive legal professional groups, gender activists and legal advocacy groups.

Listen to our Director, Seehaam Samaai, explain the issues in regard to the shelved domestic partnership bill and the impact this has on women in South Africa, 

The human rights violation of sex workers in South Africa

Panellists discussed the human rights violations of sex workers by SAPS, the right to bodily autonomy and the impact of the SALRC recommendations on the rights of sex workers.

Marlise Richter Head of the Policy, Development and Advocacy Unit at Sonke Gender Justice  had this to say on the SALRC report, "The fact that this report recommends the status quo in the face of evidence, while insulting sex workers with the inclusion of diversion programs based on the current laws for children, is deplorable and is evidence that the South Africa Law Reform Commission, and the commissioners who signed off on the report, are out of touch with the realities of South Africans."

The panel also discussed the WLC report on police brutality of sex workers, which remains a major human rights violation. See our report

Promotion of Access to Justice through Pro Bono and/or Community Service: Discussion on the implications of the community service provision of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014

The Legal Practice Act introduced the concept of “community service” that will be conducted by legal practitioners and candidate legal practitioners. The Act is set to transform the legal system in South Africa, potentially making access to justice easier for many South Africans who cannot afford legal services.

Listen to Professor Penny Andrews from UCT Law on some of the problems faced with community service 

Gender transformation in the Public Interest Law (PIL) sector

The panel discussed the challenges (stereotypes and barriers) within the PIL Sector, the role of legal NGOs and organised legal structures in supporting women lawyers within the public interest legal sector.   Panellists will further explore and identify achievable objectives on increasing the number of black women litigating within the PIL Sector and how to create an enabling environment for black women within the PIL Sector.

Listen to Ofentse Motlhasedi talk about why we need to prioritise the question of race over every other question 

And Allison Tilley asks the million-dollar question. How does one become an acting judge? No one seems to know.