Ms Bwanya and Mr Ruch were involved in a long term romantic relationship, supporting each other financially and living together like a married couple. They intended to marry and were engaged but did not have the opportunity before Mr Ruch passed away.
Mr Ruch left a will and his only heir was his mother who was recently deceased. Ms Bwanya submitted a claim to the Executor and Master for a Universal Partnership in order to inherit from Mr Ruch’s estate. This was rejected by the Master and she was directed to approach the courts to prove her claim.
The Cape Town High Court declared that part of the Intestate Succession Act is unconstitutional as it excludes opposite sex persons in a permanent life partnership. Ms Bwanya has been granted the right to inherit from Mr Ruch’s estate as a permanent life partner.
This issue may still be tested by the Constitutional Court and the Intestate Succession Act will have to be amended to include permanent life partners. This is a very interesting development in our law!