eviction - customary law - adoption - South Gauteng High Court

SERI is involved in a South Gauteng High Court case, representing a 26 year old woman, Ms K, who is facing an eviction application in the Magistrates Court. The house she is living in was owned by a woman who recently passed away, but who had raised Ms K and treated her like her own daughter for over 20 years. However, there is no direct evidence that she was formally adopted.

SERI is arguing that Ms K was adopted in terms of customary law, alternatively she was de facto adopted due to the nature of the relationship she had with her mother. Both these adoptions are difficult to prove in court, and the person in line to inherit the house (and who wants to evict Ms K) is alleging that she was not adopted, she was a mere “charity case” taken on by the previous owner of the house.  The Magistrates Court matter is pending until the final determination of Ms K's status by the High Court.

On 8 May 2012, the Johannesburg High Court handed down an order in the case, declaring that Ms K could inherit as her adoptive mother's customary law heir.

  • SERI press release (9 May 2012) here.