Pretoria - A woman who argued she was entitled to R2 million 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.
The woman, who cannot be named so as not to identify her daughter, met her partner two years before he was killed in a car accident. Before his death, he took care of her as well as her teenage daughter.
According to her, there was a legal duty on him to support her and her child, whom he had accepted and treated as his own. Thus, she reasoned, she could claim from the RAF for loss of support.
The woman claimed they were engaged to be married at the time of his death. She said apart from taking care of her and her daughter, he also promised to later send her daughter to university.
The court noted 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 South Africa” in which it is explained what a customary marriage entailed in law.
He quoted from the publication which read, “customary marriage in true African tradition is not an event but a process comprising a chain of events”.
According to the publication, it is not about the bride and the groom, but involves two families. The judge also pointed out that there were certain basic formalities, such as lobola, which must be negotiated as well as the later handing over of the bride.
Judge Makhoba said there was no such evidence before him, 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,” he said.
The judge 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 nor her daughter.