Mary Rahube // Hedsrine Rahube & others case no 101250/2015

Date: 26/09/2017

Today, the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria handed down judgment in the case of Mary Rahube, a 68 year old woman facing an application for her eviction from the family home in which she has lived for more than 37 years.

Today the 26th of September 2017 the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria handed down judgment in the case of Mantshabelle Mary Rahube, a sixty-eight (68) year old woman facing an application for her eviction from the family home in which she has lived for more than thirty-seven (37) years by her bother Hedrine Rahube.

The case sought to have Mary declared the owner of the property and challenge the constitutionality of section 2(1) of the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act 112 of 1991 (ULTRA) on the basis that it fails to give occupiers of a property notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to the conversion of rights over the property to full ownership.

LHR argued that the absence of this opportunity, together with the gender and racially discriminatory laws that regulated the allocation of houses in the apartheid era, and allowed only adult males to become the holders of these rights, continues to cause indirect discrimination against female headed houses.


Mary and her siblings, together with their grandmother, moved into a house in Block B, Mabopane in the 1970’s, following their removal from the Lady Selborne area in Pretoria. Due to the apartheid laws of the time the family could not obtain title for the property and were issued with a so-called certificate of occupation. As only an adult male could be the holder of this limited occupational right, the certificate was issued in the name of her brother.  Her brother later obtained a Deed of Grant for the family home under the then “Republic of Bophuthatswana”.

In the early 1990’s Mary’s brother left the family home and Mary continued to live in the house with her daughter and grandchildren.  It was not until an application for the family’s eviction was brought by her brother in August 2009 that Mary discovered her brother had automatically become the owner of the family home through the operation of the ULTRA.

No notice or enquiry to determine who the actual occupiers of the home were took place prior to the conversion of the family home into ownership in her brother’s name and no steps to deal with the gender discriminatory laws of the past that prevented Mary or her grandmother becoming the registered holder of the housing rights were taken.

Under the Apartheid government the property rights of women, particularly in township areas, was placed under the custody of men. Women could not obtain deeds of grant or certificates in their own names.

LHR argued that the current manner in which the various forms of tenure are being upgraded and converted into ownership particularly under the Upgrading of Tenure Rights Act makes no provision for the investigation or inquiry into whom the actual occupants of the house are. Further this process continues to enforce the effects of gender discriminatory apartheid legislation and denies the women an opportunity to make representations concerning their rights to property.

The court held that Section 2(1) of ULTRA is constitutionally invalid insofar as it automatically converted holders of land tenure rights into owners of property, without providing the occupants and affected parties lacking ownership rights notice or opportunity to make submissions to an appropriately established forum, prior to the conversation of the land tenure rights into ownership. Further to this the constitutional invalidity would be made retrospective to the 27th of April 1994, however its application is suspended for a period of 18 months to allow Parliament the opportunity to introduce a constitutionally permissible procedure to cure the constitutional invalidity.

We welcome the judgment handed down by the Honourable Acting Justice Kollapen as it has taken great strides in ensuring the property rights of women are protected and LHR would like to thank Advocate A De Vos SC and Advocate M Maropa for their valuable contribution and commitment to see this matter through.

For more information please contact Carol Mohlala, Media and Communications Manager on 079 238 9826 or Tarisai Mugunyani, Attorney (Land and Housing) on 012 320 2943

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