Score one for women

Traditionalists are scratching their heads in amazement after the Constitutional Court allowed a woman to be appointed chief of the Valoyi tribe in Limpopo.

Traditionalists are scratching their heads in amazement after the Constitutional Court allowed a woman to be appointed chief of the Valoyi tribe in Limpopo.

The Vatsonga people traditionally allow only men to become chiefs. So when Hosi Fofoza Nwamitwa died in 1968 his eldest daughter Tinyiko wasn't even considered for the throne, which was handed to her father's younger brother Richard Nwamitwa.

After democracy, a faction of the tribe decided to amend their traditions in line with the new Constitution and allow a woman to claim the chieftaincy. They also decided that Tinyiko should succeed her uncle. But Richard died in 2001 and his son Sidwell contested Tinyiko's claim.

Last week the Constitutional Court overturned earlier rulings in the high and appeal courts in Sidwell Nwamitwa's favour and gave Tinyiko Nwamitwa-Shilubana her father's throne.

Score one for gender equality and the Bill of Rights. But consider too the paradox that the Bill of Rights also grants cultural and religious communities the right to maintain their traditions.

Will the day dawn when the ZCC must accept lesbian priests and Bafana Bafana female strikers or fullbacks?

Only judges with the wisdom of Solomon will be able to adjudicate in cases of such competing interests.

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