African customary law: Its social and ideological function in South Africa

Suttner, Raymond
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The study of the terms and mode of application of African customary law in South Africa has generally been neglected both by lawyers and African Studies scholars. In the case of lawyers, there is little interest in a law potentially relevant to seventy per cent of the population - where that seventy per cent is for the most part unable to pay lawyers' fees. In the case of students of African studies, the segregated legal and judicial systems may seem of marginal consequence, in the light of the more serious disabilities that people experience through more patently repressive laws, such as those regulating influx control, resettlement, banishment etc., let alone laws concerning directly political activities. It would nevertheless be wrong, I shall try to show, to dismiss this area as unimportant or innocuous. This paper seeks to demonstrate how the special court and legal system set up to deal with civil cases between Africans, contributes ideologically, economically and socially, to the national oppression of the African people.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 13 October 1983
Customary law. South Africa