Zimbabwe’s High Court has made a landmark ruling that sanctions inheritance wills to be overturned or amended, if they exclude surviving spouses and children.
The court made the ruling in a case brought before it by a widow in Mutare, who had been excluded from her husband’s will.
Lily Lilian Nyamushanya had not been included in the will as a beneficiary of his estate in a leafy suburb of the eastern border town.
The deceased also disinherited his two children.
In her ruling, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo said that the widow ought to be the sole beneficiary of the matrimonial home, and the children should benefit from the estate.
“The portion of the Will dealing with the matrimonial home is set aside and the first applicant (Mrs Nyamushanya) is declared the sole beneficiary of the matrimonial property,” Justice Matanda-Moyo ruled.
“The fourth and fifth respondents (the two children) are to benefit as per the distribution plan presented,” she added.
Local Herald newspaper reports that the judge took aim at traditions and cultural practices that infringe on the rights of women conferred by the constitution, saying they were void.
“Traditions and cultural practices that infringe the rights of women conferred by the Constitution, are void to the extent of the infringement," The paper quotes Justice Matanda-Moyo as saying.
The ruling was the first such to be made in the southern African country, and could act as a platform for more widows disadvantaged by wills to seek alterations.