Row over recognition of HHP’s customary marriage far from over
MAHIKENG: Lerato Sengadi, the customary wife of late motswako rapper Jabulani “HHP” Tsambo, at the funeral of her late husband at Mmabatho Convention Centre in Mahikeng, North West. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
The dispute over hip hop star Jabulani “HHP” Tsambo and Lerato Sengadi’s customary marriage is far from over despite a high court confirming the union.
HHP’s family is finalising court papers to challenge the ruling based on the cultural requirements for a marriage to be recognised.
The Tsambos argue that Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng’s understanding does not resonate with theirs.
Sengadi was declared HHP’s legal spouse after an 11th hour court bid to interdict the funeral. The judge implored both parties to bury the hatchet in the spirit of ubuntu and lay HHP to rest in Mahikeng, North West, despite Sengadi arguing that his wish was to be buried in Joburg.
“As a family we believe his judgement was not properly considered. We have specific ways in which we define customary marriages and that will be spelt out in our appeal. There is no way those processes were met,” said family spokesperson Nkululeko Ncana.
Judge Mokgoatlheng had ruled that the union met the three mandatory requirements. However, the Tsambos believe the judge erred in his understanding of the processes.
“HHP’s father is the head of the family and therefore would be the man that would lead the delegation for any lobola negotiation. In no way would he go to the bride’s house to receive the bride there. Things have never happened that way in our family.
“This fact was actually corrected with her family during a sit-down on October 27 when Lerato and her mother wanted to insist that the lobola was completed. There were no celebrations, just lunch as any other family would do after any sitting. It wasn’t a celebration,” said Ncana.
In the same breath, independent legal expert advocate Thabo Seneke said the pending appeal was in accordance with the third part of the requirements of the Customary Marriages Act, which says lobola must be negotiated and entered into.
“This means that after negotiations there is a celebration according to the parties’ customs.
“If Lerato was to be acknowledged as the wife, after the lobola she was to be taken to Mahikeng as a way of being handed over to his family. That counts as a traditional wedding, which was not done,” said Seneke.
Sengadi was not available for comment at the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, Dr VVO Mkhize, a cultural expert, said a traditional marriage was not complete without lobola being paid and traditional rites to welcome the bride to the groom’s family.
“A cow has to be taken to the groom’s place where it will be slaughtered and the necessary rites are performed. Then she is accepted by the groom’s family
“In an African marriage, it is not permitted that the couple live together before lobola negotiations and the traditional ceremony are completed, which disqualifies what is happening today,” said Mkhize, adding that the union could not be dissolved as it joined the two families’ ancestors.
However, gender activist Mbuyiselo Botha disagreed, saying there was nothing in law binding people forever.
“From my point of view, the union is dissolved when the two people married are of the view that their relationship is not working any more.
“There is no culture in that,” he said.”
For a customary marriage to be valid, the prospective spouses:
must both be above the age of 18 years. They must both consent to be married to each other under customary law and the marriage must be negotiated and entered into or celebrated in accordance with customary law.
The Sunday Independent