The Inkatha Freedom Party has expressed concern about the challenges in recognising Hindu marriages by law.
Narend Singh, the party's chief whip in Parliament, said while they welcome the progress being made with regard to Muslim marriages, they were concerned that the parties to Hindu marriages were often subjected to much the same legal challenges, while not much was being done to champion their rights.
He said more Hindu priests should be recognised and be able to become marriage officers to certify marriages.
“The IFP notes and welcomes the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill, 2023, in particular the amendments it proposes to the Intestate Succession Act, 1987, to ‘extend the meaning of spouse’, and the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act, 1990, ‘to insert more definitions’”.
“These legislative amendments seek to provide clarity and offer additional protections to persons married in terms of religious marriages. This is in addition to the Registration of Muslim Marriages Bill, which was introduced in November 2022, ‘To regulate the recognition, requirements, solemnisation, registration, proprietary and other consequences, dissolution and consequences of dissolution of Muslim marriages; and to provide for matters connected therewith’”.
He said according to the Constitution everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
“We therefore extend a plea that similar time and attention be devoted to ensuring that Hindu marriages, as far as reasonably practicable, enjoy the same rights and legal security as civil marriages, customary marriages, and civil unions,” he said.
“If we look at marriages, other than civil unions and customary marriages, then we must look at Muslim and Hindu marriages, legality thereof, and how we can assist and expedite the process of getting these marriages registered. Because sometimes later in life there are issues of maintenance or divorce,” said Singh.
Ashwin Trikamjee, head of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, welcomed the initiative being taken by Singh, adding that as a member of Parliament he is in a powerful position to bring about the initiative quickly.
“We have raised the matter with the justice minister and subsequently had a constructive meeting with the department’s senior personnel. We were told they were looking at revamping the entire marriage act and one of the issues that was going to be raised with Parliament to amend was recognising religious marriages, not only Hindu. The whole issue of marriages in South Africa is complicated because of the various religious marriages that take place.
“This issue has been going on for years. We are inundated on a daily basis with calls to the Maha Sabha from law firms, legal representatives and Hindu community members seeking advice on how to deal with a Hindu marriage that has not been registered according to South African law,” said Trikamjee.
SUNDAY TRIBUNE2023-05-23T11:32:08Z dg43tfdfdgfd