Racist marriage laws get Govt attentionBy: SELMA SHIPANGA
THE Ministry of Home Affairs has started a process to repeal an apartheid law which provides that civil marriages between black people in the northern communal areas are automatically out of community of property.
The law, called the Native Administration Proclamation 15 of 1928, stipulates rules for marriages between black people north of the old police zone which has come to be known as the “red line”.
The Ministry on Tuesday advertised that it was inviting submissions for the drafting of regulatory framework for churches and marriage officers in the Republic of Namibia.
Home Affairs officials said they would share the details of the framework with the media at a later stage.
In terms of the Native Administration Proclamation 15 of 1928 law, all civil marriages between black people north of the red line after August 1 1950 are automatically out of community of property, unless another arrangement was made with the marriage officer before the marriage took place.
“All other civil marriages are automatically in community of property, unless the couple signed an ante-nuptial contract before the marriage took place,” said Dianne Hubbard, coordinator of the Gender Research and Advocacy Project at the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC)
Hubbard told The Namibian yesterday that various proposed law reforms on customary marriage, marital property, divorce and inheritance are set to be discussed with key policy-makers at a workshop hosted by the government’s Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) next week.
“If this package of law reforms move forward, this would lead to the long overdue repeal of the odiously named Native Administration Proclamation. Namibia has enacted few family law reforms since independence, and LAC welcomes the moves to transform this archaic and discriminatory area of Namibian law,” Hubbard said.
She added that other parts of the Native Administration Proclamation apply different rules to inheritance, depending on race and martial property regime.
“The LAC has provided research and recommendations to the LRDC on an entirely new approach to marital property which would remove all race-based differentiation,” she said.
Pastor Hansie Beukes of the Faith Reformed Baptist Church in Khomasdal makes reference to another Marriage Act which was apparently adopted in Namibia during the colonial era which prohibits black people from marrying outside of their tribes.
Retired Reverend Ngeno Nakamhela said: “It was clear that marriages between black people and white people were not allowed. It was not common back in the days for anyone to marry out of their tribes either.”
According to Beukes, this act was never repealed and, although not enforced, is still in existence.
“It’s an old South African post-colonial-era Marriage Act of 1963 which was commonly used in Namibia during the apartheid era. That Act was never reformed and as far as I’m concerned, it is still in existence. Our government should put something new in effect otherwise the old act still exists,” said Beukes.
According to Beukes, the Act, which referred to black people as “Bantus” had some divisions between different African tribes.
“That Act also contained guidelines on how to marry people so that the bloodlines don’t cross,” he adds.