Understanding South Africa's laws on cultural and religious diversity requires understanding its colonial and apartheid past. The most convenient date at which to begin such an inquiry is 1652, when the Dutch East India Company established a revictualling base at what is now Cape Town. Roman-Dutch law was taken to be the basic law of the territory, and it still regulates most aspects of South African private law. In 1814, however, the Netherlands ceded the Cape to Britain, and English law was then imposed in all public and commercial matters.
T. W. Bennett,
Legal Pluralism and the Family in South Africa: Lessons from Customary Law Reform,
Emory Int'l L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.emory.edu/eilr/vol25/iss2/13