Academic explores customary law among Khoi-San communities

Prof Christa Rautenbach, a lecturer at the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Faculty of Law, recently delivered a keynote address titled "Reviving and recognising customary law: traditional leadership and governance among Khoi-San communities" at the Commission on Khoi-San Matters Research Symposium in Cape Town.

The symposium was a collaborative effort between the Commission on Khoi-San Matters and esteemed academic institutions, such as the University of the Western Cape, University of Stellenbosch, University of Johannesburg, Sol Plaatje University and Rhodes University.

It aimed to delve into critical discussions surrounding Khoi-San customary laws and customs. Furthermore, this collaborative dialogue aimed to foster understanding for and advance the process of recognition for Khoi-San communities in South Africa.

The symposium specifically focused on Section 5(1)(a) of the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act 3 of 2019, which faced constitutional challenges culminating in the landmark case of Mogale v Speaker of the National Assembly 2023 (6) SA 58 (CC) on 30 May 2023.

Prof Rautenbach's address shed light on the profound impact of colonialism and apartheid on Khoi-San communities. She meticulously examined the meaning of "community" and "customary law and customs," along with the criteria outlined in the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act.

In her discourse, Prof Rautenbach aptly remarked, "The legacy of colonialism and apartheid continues to resonate through the fabric of Khoi-San communities, influencing their social structures and legal frameworks. Recognising and revitalising customary law is not merely a legal imperative but a moral obligation to rectify historical injustices."

The symposium witnessed a diverse panel of respondents engaging in lively question-and-answer sessions involving Khoi-San community members and leaders, academics and members of the commission and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Prof Rautenbach's participation in this significant event exemplifies the NWU's commitment to promoting justice and inclusivity in legal discourse. By amplifying voices often marginalised in legal arenas, she highlighted the importance of acknowledging and respecting diverse legal traditions in the pursuit of a more equitable society.

Prof Christa Rautenbach delivered the keynote address at the Commission on Khoi-San Matters Research Symposium.

Submitted on Thu, 03/28/2024 - 09:46