Doreen Maswanganye applied to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for an order declaring she had been customarily adopted by her mother’s sister, the late Maggie Baloyi, and declaring her the sole heir of her aunt’s estate.
Her aunt, who owned a house in Chiawelo township in Gauteng, died in 2011 without leaving a will. Maswanganye also wanted the court to withdraw the appointment of Cathrine Baloyi as curatrix of the estate.
Baloyi is the widow of her aunt’s deceased son, Percy, and the mother of three of his children. Maswanganye claimed her aunt, with whom she had lived since the age of about 10, had adopted her in terms of customary law and that she was now her aunt’s only descendant.
She said she had adopted her aunt’s surname, although both her parents were still alive, used it throughout her school career and was the one who took care of her aunt during her lifetime. She conceded that when she was married, her biological parents had received the lobola. Her aunt had four sons, but all of them predeceased her and only Percy had children.
Judge Tati Makgoka dismissed Maswanganye’s application with costs. He found she had not proved an adoption in terms of African customary law as there was no ceremony to mark the occasion.