Repudiation of an inheritance by a spouse married in community of property: Govender No v Gounden

Author Michael Cameron Wood-Bodley

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer in Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 137 Issue 2, p. 214-228


The note examines the basis of the decision in Govender NO v Gounden 2019 (2) SA 262 (KZD), in which it was found that in terms of s 15(3)(b)(iii) of the Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984 an inheritance of money by a spouse married in community of property can be validly repudiated by the beneficiary spouse alone, without the concurrence of the non-beneficiary spouse, thereby depriving the joint estate of the benefit of the inheritance. The judgment is critically examined in the light of the principles that were decided by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Wessels NO v De Jager NO 2000 (4) SA 924 (SCA). The author argues that the Govender decision cannot be reconciled with the reasoning in the Wessels case. Further problematic aspects of the Govender decision are also examined.