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No divorce in Swazi marriages - King

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MBABANE – His Majesty King Mswati III has reminded the nation that there is no divorce in a marriage conducted under Swazi Law and Custom.


The monarch said there was no earthly forum that had the powers to declare a customary marriage null and void.
Only death, the King said, can bring a customary marriage to an end.
Of late, the kingdom’s courts have seen an upsurge of cases where individuals married under Swazi Law and Custom want their marriages nullified.
This, the King said, was foreign to Swaziland.


His Majesty made this pronouncement a fortnight ago at Ludzidzini Royal Residence during the paying of bride price for one of King Sobhuza II’s daughters, Princess Khetsiwe, by the Samuels family from Velezizweni in Mankayane.
Princess Khetsiwe’s mother is Inkhosikati LaMatsebula – one of King Sobhuza’s wives.


“We urge the Samuels to be together until death does them apart because according to our customs and traditions, once a couple gets married the traditional way, nothing can undo that marriage. Only death can undo that marriage. There is no divorce; that is unknown to us. Once we do it the Swazi way and complete the whole marriage process then it becomes a done deal.”


Continuing, the King said: “We do not even need to sign any documents to prove that marriage because you find that in future such documents are torn apart when some members of the family say the marriage is not in existence and, therefore, the documents should be torn. We do not have such under Swazi culture; we do not encourage it and practice this. All we know is that a person dies at their marital home. That is the Swazi way which was designed by God.”


The King said once a woman was smeared with red ochre (libovu), that meant the person was now a wife and therefore cannot be smeared with red ochre again by another family.
Red ochre is a substance that a woman is smeared with during a ceremony known as kuteka, which is one of the early stages in customary marriage.


“Once you are smeared with red ochre, it is not like in a marriage where you can divorce and then go on to sign another marriage document with another man. Once you are smeared with red ochre, no other family can also do that to you because that would be taboo to them. Nothing would ever go well for that family.”


The King said even if a wife was to desert her husband, she would be fetched to mourn him once the man died.
He noted that Swazi customary marriage was good and therefore encouraged that the youth should be taught about it.
“The youth should know that once you get married traditionally, that marriage cannot be undone, yet other foreign forms of marriage can be undone,” said the King.

 

‘Kumbuyisela ekhaya is traditional divorce’



MBABANE – Human Rights Advocate Sipho Gumede has noted that divorce also exists in Swazi Law and Custom.


The Lawyers for Human Rights Secretary said according to Swazi Law, there was a process referred to as ‘Kumbuyisela ekhaya’ (reuniting a married woman with her parents or relatives), which is similar to divorce.


The senior lawyer claimed that divorce existed in Swazi Law and Custom because the process of accompanying a wife to her parental homestead, if she had committed adultery or witchcraft, meant that she was being divorced by her husband.


“Every marriage can be divorced, that is why even according to Swazi Law and Custom, a wife can be referred back to her parental homestead if she has committed adultery or witchcraft. The fact that the wife is taken back to her parental homestead, if she has committed an offence such as witchcraft, effectively means she gets divorced with her husband,” Gumede said.


Gumede’s assertion was a complement to His Majesty King Mswati III’s address that marriages conducted under Swazi Law and Custom could not be nullified.
The King said there was no earthly forum that had the powers to declare a customary marriage null and void.
Only death, the King said, could bring a customary marriage to an end.


Recently, the kingdom’s courts have seen an upsurge of cases where individuals married under Swazi Law and Custom want their marriages nullified. This, the King said, was foreign to Swaziland.

 

Women should get husbands’ consent

MBABANE – Married women should seek the consent of their husbands in everything they do, His Majesty King Mswati III has said.


The King said he was aware that there were complaints from some quarters who argue that the country was being taken backwards by instances where women were turned back by certain institutions because they came seeking help without the involvement of their husbands.

“It is not a problem to involve your husband in everything you do. Instead, this is meant to show cooperation between the two of you. If a woman is allowed to do things all by herself, that would create disharmony within the family,” said the monarch.


Recently, the High Court issued a landmark judgment where it ruled that married women could now sue and be sued without the consent of their husbands. According to the common law concept of marital power, married women are barred from suing and being sued without the assistance of their husbands.


Inconsistent


A full bench of the High Court comprising Judges Mbutfo Mamba, Qinisile Mabuza and Jacobus Annadale found that this was inconsistent with Sections 20 and 28 of Swaziland’s Constitution.
The ruling was based on a Civil Law marriage where the wife had taken her husband to court where she wanted him to show cause why some of his relatives should leave their marital home.


Meanwhile, the King made his statement during the paying of bride price for Princess Khetsiwe who married under Swazi Law and Custom.
His Majesty said by seeking the consent of their husbands, women were encouraging the spirit of peace, harmony and transparency within their families so that their children would be brought up in a respectful environment.


He said children brought up in a chaotic environment also grew up to be troublesome.
The King cautioned that if husbands were not treated with respect by their wives, they then resorted to taking intoxicating substances so that they fall asleep immediately upon getting home.


“They want to ignore what the wives are saying. This even leads to the men not getting into bed with their wives.”
Even husbands, said the King, have to consult their wives when they want to slaughter a cow, even though that cow belonged to them.
“In life you work together and advise each other as husband and wife. You cannot take an individual decision,” said His Majesty.

 

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