The Mbatha family in Mthole area outside Mtubatuba, northern Zululand, are angry after their in-laws approached them on Sunday morning without notice to claim lobolo that they had paid for their niece.
Their niece, Sonto Mbatha, was married to Gcina Ndlovu but the marriage ended two years ago.
Insisting that they wanted their lobolo back the Ndlovu family allegedly left with 11 cows.
Family spokesman and son Mandla Mbatha said the Ndlovu family arrived in a truck on Sunday morning and demanded their lobolo back.
"There were about 15 men armed with assegais, sticks and knobkerries," he said. "Without saying much they took 11 cows and left. They claimed the cows constituted the lobolo they paid for Sonto."
Mbatha said the two families had on several occasions failed to address the matter after Sonto and Gcina's ended their marriage.
He said his family wanted their cows back.
Local headman Kister Mkhwanazi confirmed that the Ndlovu family had spoken to him but insisted he was also shocked to hear that they took the cows.
Police spokesman Captain Jabulani Mdletshe confirmed that a case of theft was being investigated.