Every country has controversial laws that make people go “huh?” or worse, trigger protests. The laws are sometimes attached to centuries-old values that may no longer be relevant, or that got lost in the shuffle of the thousands of issues politicians and legislators must attend to every day. Here are some of the strangest laws in South Africa.
In South Africa, it is illegal for children and teens under the age of 16 to show public displays of affection. When the law came out in 2008, thousands of South African teenagers protested, posting online photos of themselves breaking this law. The Sexual Offences Act has a clause that makes children under 16 liable to be criminally charged if they are caught kissing or touching one another. Over 20,000 teens pledged to continue this protest until the law was abolished, according to Dnaindia.com.
In South Africa, if an unmarried woman has a child, she automatically assumes all rights and responsibilities for that child. The same is not true for unmarried men. If an unmarried man has a child, he only takes responsibility for the child if he consents to it, or was in a domestic partnership with the mother at the time of birth, according to Divorcelaws.co.za.
Due to the heavy traffic in South Africa, a recent law makes it illegal for vehicles weighing more than 9,000 kilograms (nearly 20,000 pounds) to be on the roads during rush hour. Specifically, heavy vehicles cannot be on the roads between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., or between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., according to Wheels24.co.za.
If you are ever driving in South Africa and a herder and his cattle want to cross the road, you must yield to them. Herders have the right of way on the road, says Ingenie.ca. There is a limit to the rule, though. The animals must be donkeys, goats, pigs, ostriches, mules or horses.
In South Africa, any person who owns a TV that receives a broadcast signal must pay for a TV license. People can own a TV without a license, but they must have their signal disconnected and pay inspection fees to prove they’ve done so, says Mybroadband.co.za.
In South Africa, there are several laws outlining permissible behavior between civilians and bears. This is odd considering that no bear has naturally lived in sub-Saharan Africa for the last 1.5 million years. The only bear species known to have inhabited this part of the world is the extinct ursid agriotherium africanum, according to Quora. One law states that in South Africa, people are prohibited from bringing bears to public or private beaches, according to Prezi.com. Bear wrestling is also illegal in the country, according to Nairaland.com.
South African youth are subject to some laws when it comes to physical contact while wearing bathing suits. In South Africa it’s illegal for young people in bathing suits to sit less than 12 inches apart, according to Exitzero.us.
South African marriage law recognizes three different types of marriages; civil marriages, customary marriages, which recognize polygamy, and civil unions, according to Mg.co.za. Some legislators are pushing for a law that would require a man’s first wife to consent to polygamous marriage.