Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal/Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad

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The customary anatomy of the Traditional Governance of the Bafokeng Traditional Community: The implications of the constitutional recognition of hereditary headmanship

Samuel Freddy Khunou


The institution of the hereditary headmanship of the Bafokeng traditional community in the North West Province, South Africa has been in existence from time immemorial. It survived the calamities and vicissitudes of both the colonial and the apartheid regimes. The question asked here is whether the hereditary headmanship is relevant in the new constitutional dispensation or, to put the question differently, whether this customary practice is in line with the dictates and ethos of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution). This article asserts that the customary practice of hereditary headmanship of Bafokeng is still apposite and fitting in the new South Africa. In particular, it is in accord with the Constitution, as is the customary practice of the Cala community in the Eastern Cape, which requires its headmen to be elected by members of the community from time to time.

Keywords: Hereditary headmanship; traditional governance; customary law; Interim Constitution; 1996 Constitution; legislation; homelands; Apartheid; genealogical seniority; family group; traditional ward; Bill of Rights
AJOL African Journals Online