Women and Justice: Court: High Court of Tanzania

Domestic Case Law

Kalulu v. Mahirima High Court of Tanzania (2011)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The father of the deceased objected to the appointment of his son’s wife as an administratrix of the will. He claimed that there was no evidence that a customary marriage had taken place between his son and the respondent or that the couple had not been divorced in the interim. He also contended that Chagga customary law on succession and inheritance barred women from administering wills. The Court dismissed his appeal. It noted even if there had not been a customary marriage between the deceased and the respondent, the duration and nature of their relationship satisfied the requirements for a presumed marriage. Furthermore, the Court cited Article 12 and 13 of the Constitution and Article 1 of CEDAW to emphasize its commitment to ending gender-based discrimination. It decided that following Chagga customary law would be discriminatory and that the deceased wife would remain as an administratrix of the will.



Republic v. Elvan S/O Cyprian Luvindu High Court of Tanzania (2005)

Trafficking in persons

The accused physically assaulted the woman with whom he was living. The two were lovers, and he drunkenly hit and kicked her to death. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was in remand for four years, served part of his sentence, and had dependents. He asked for leniency on these grounds. The Court emphasized that this offence was committed “in the course of domestic violence” and made note of the Republic’s commitment to CEDAW and the eradication of violence against women. The accused was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.



Mtefu v. Mtefu High Court of Tanzania (1995)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The appellant appealed the order of a lower court that he pay maintenance Tshs. 10 000 per month to his former wife. He based his appeal on the claims that his adultery was unfairly held responsible for the dissolution of the marriage and that his income could not sustain the maintenance payments dictated by the lower court. He also argued that his former wife had earned no income during the course of the marriage and thus should not be entitled to a share of the matrimonial assets. The Court dismissed the appeal. It pointed out that his wife had demonstrably objected to his adultery with her niece, noting that this was “sufficient cruelty to break the marriage”. It also noted that theirs had been a Christian marriage, which emphasized fidelity. In addition, the Court also cited the case of Bi Hawa Mohamed, which recognized “housekeeping as services requiring compensation” and the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977, which barred discrimination, to justify the division of matrimonial assets.



Mtawa v. Risasi High Court of Tanzania (2001)

Property and inheritance rights

The appellant had lived with the deceased as husband and wife for nine years and given birth to two of his children. At his death, she asked that the estate not be distributed in accordance with Islamic law, which would have prevented her from receiving a share of the estate. The brother of the deceased challenged this, contending that she was a concubine who had no right to a share of the estate she had contributed nothing to amassing. The trial court registered a decision in favor of the appellant. It found that her relationship was the deceased fell under the presumption of marriage, and accordingly awarded her the house until either her death or marriage to another man. The brother appealed this decision and the District Court reversed the ruling of the trial court. The High Court found that the appellant and the deceased had achieved the status of a customary marriage. It also ruled that the deceased’s actions showed that he did not profess the Islamic faith and that Islamic law should thus not apply. It registered a decision that the appellant, through her contribution to the welfare of the household and family, was entitled to a share of the estate. The appellant received a half share of the house, while the other half was awarded to her children.



Ephrahim v. Pastory and Kaizingele High Court of Tanzania (1990)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The respondent, Ms. Pastory, inherited clan land from her father by a valid will and sold the land to a man who was not a member of her clan.  The next day, the appellant, Mr. Ephrahim, filed suit seeking a declaration that the sale of land by Ms. Pastory was void under the customary law that a woman has no power to sell clan land. The Court held that the customary law regarding women's property rights discriminated on the ground of sex in violation of CEDAW, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the ICCPR as well as the Tanzania Constitution.