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ZUG2012 – African customary law

Undergraduate – Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Business and Economics


South Africa

  • First Semester 2018

15 Credits


African customary law deals with African customary law recognised by section 211 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. Customary law, as the name suggests, focusses mainly on the general principles of African customary law. The module explains the context and scope of the basic knowledge of South African cultural and legal pluralism, of similarities and differences between different versions of traditional and modern customary law and common law, of the historical handling of conflicts between these systems up to their ongoing interaction with the Constitution, and the relevant values concerned. It demonstrates an in-depth knowledge on the nature and content of the versions of the traditional and modern South African customary law of persons and family relations, property (including land), contract, wrongs (including delict and crime), succession and procedure (including evidence). A strategic and integrative approach is followed and explored through the use of appropriate case studies and applied activities to describe the versions of the traditional and modern South African customary constitutional and administrative laws, including traditional commoduleies, leaders, councils and courts, as well as Houses of Traditional Leaders. In addition this module will also assist learners to develop independent research skills, including the use of technology for legal research. Students will encounter aspects of these systems in their legal practice one day.


  • Demonstrate knowledge of the most important rules of African indigenous law as opposed to western rules.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the nature of the African indigenous law within a group, with special reference to:
    • the different aspects of the African Indigenous law;
    • comparisons of African indigenous legal rules with rules in other legal systems; and
    • retrieving and integrating information.
  • Interpret applications of relevant legislation and case law, including the South African Constitution.
  • Interpret legal concepts and terminology commonly encountered in Customary Law.
  • Analyse any chosen set of facts, gather additional information and reach a solution.
  • Communicate the law, and its application to different factual situations, in writing or orally with reference to the necessary authority.
  • Evaluate information and formulate a possible solution in accordance with expectations at this level and accepted practices and format in order to solve a problem.


Within semester assessment: 50%
Examination: 50%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this module is 150 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. Independent study may include associated readings, assessment and preparation for scheduled activities. The module requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.