Litigation: Intestate Act ruling ends claim by 'widow'

Pearl Modise – a ‘widow’ who challenged the constitutional validity of sections of the Intestate Succession Act – has lost her legal bid to share in her ‘husband’s’ estate. The Star reports she had challenged the section of the Act that excluded the widows in a polygamous marriage from inheriting maintenance following the death of their husbands. The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) found that Modise was, in the first place, never married to the late MG Modise. It found that he was already married at the time.

Apart from that, there was also a court order issued in 2012 in place, which prohibited such a marriage taking place. The court commented that it was common cause that Modise’s marriage was not celebrated in accordance with the requirements set out in Customary Marriages Act, nor was it solemnized by a marriage officer appointed in terms of the Marriage Act. It was also not a customary marriage. At the time of the purported marriage between her and the man, he had already entered a civil marriage, in community of property, with another woman, who had recently died. His then wife obtained an urgent interdict against Modise and her in 2012 when she heard that they wanted to get married. Her reason was that she was still married to him. Judge KE Matojane questioned how Modise knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage which had been prohibited by the court in 2012.

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