PARLIAMENT will soon pass the Traditional Courts Bill into law but the people it will affect most claim they were not consulted.
Organisations and committees representing people from rural areas this week met in Yeoville, Johannesburg, to raise their concerns about the proposed bill.
"I believe it will take us back because traditional courts are oppressive and biased," said Solomon Mabuza of Mpumalanga.
The bill was introduced last year with the intention of providing people with access to justice. But it has attracted significant debate and criticism from various quarters.
Mabuza said if the bill were passed it would undermine the Constitution because it discriminated against women and the youth.
Miriam Mateza of Gcina Tribal Authority in Eastern Cape told her story to show how traditional courts dealt with issues.
"I bought land from the Transkei Development Corporation (TDC) in 1983 but after three years the chief confiscated it," Mateza said.
She said the chief told her that no woman in his area could own land.
"He told me: 'Who do you think you are? Have you seen a woman owning land?' He then subdivided it and gave his people stands to build houses."
Her double-storey house and a supermarket were burnt down.
"They said I was teaching other women to be disrespectful and I was chucked out of my home. I lost everything," she said.
Mateza said when she showed the chief the title deed to prove ownership she was told "it did not matter".
She said she had lodged a claim with the Land Claims Court and Land Affairs Department but had not got back her land.
Moses Ntombela of Babanango in KwaZulu-Natal said traditional leaders at times interfered in issues that had nothing to do with them.