In 2016 I advised her and her mother that she was not my customary wife as she was not handed over to my family in Tzaneen. They ignored my sound legal advice with far-reaching consequences.
Before the decision of Matlapeng AJ, in Motsoatsoa vs Roro case of 2007, our high courts were not sure on how to apply the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act.
The act has three requirements for a valid marriage:
(1) consent by the parties;
(2) that lobolo must be negotiated and agreed to; and
(3) that marriage must be celebrated according to customs of the parties.
As far as point (2) above is concerned, the only requirement is negotiation and agreement on payment of lobolo (the prospective groom need not pay the whole lobolo before the prospective bride is handed over to his family).
In fact, even if the prospective groom does not pay a cent to the family of the bride, this requirement is fulfilled by the agreement to pay an agreed amount of lobolo.
Point (3) created difficulties in interpretation by our high courts. Some decisions were to the effect that mere payment of lobolo constituted such a celebration, whereas others referred to handover of the bride. The decision of Motsoatsoa vs Roro settled these different interpretations finally.