Litigation: RAF claim after death of partner dismissed

A woman who said she was entitled to R2m from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) – because her partner whom she had intended to marry was killed in a car accident – has been turned down by the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria). According to a Cape Times report, she claimed there was a legal duty on him to support her and her child, whom he had accepted and treated as his own. She said apart from taking care of her and her daughter, he also promised to later send her daughter to university. The court noted that there was no evidence of lobola paid by the deceased. The woman's lawyer, however, argued that the plaintiff and the deceased intended to enter into a customary marriage.

Judge David Makhoba referred in his judgment to the publication, Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, and its Impact on Family Law in SA, in which it is explained what a customary marriage entails in law. The judge pointed out that there were certain basic formalities involved, such as lobola, which must be negotiated, as well as the later handing over of the bride. Makhoba said there was no such evidence before him in this case, apart from the fact that the woman and her daughter lived with the man for two years before he died. ‘Residing together for two years only does not create a legal duty to support each other. There is no proof of customary marriage or an intention to get married. There is also no proof of lobola negotiations between the deceased and the plaintiff,’ the judge said. He turned down the woman's claim for R2m in spousal maintenance as he said she did not prove that there was a duty on the deceased to support her or her daughter.

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