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Loss of support in an African context: The extended family

Most working black professionals are familiar with the colloquial term “black tax”. As contentious as the concept might be, it is common practice amongst most African families for children who have just entered the world of work to carry the burden of supporting siblings and parents. More so, all African traditions, in their diversity, have a common stance when it comes to parental support – it is the duty of one to support one’s parents. 

As a consequence of the extended definition of African families, socio-economic issues such as poverty and lack of education, most working Africans find themselves supporting family members beyond their spouses and children.

In the unfortunate event of death, a lot of family members find themselves worse off financially. It is therefore fair to include family members that are dependent on the deceased and extend the scope beyond children and spouses. The law permits the inclusion of extended family members in a loss of support claim providing there is reasonable proof of dependency (see Fourie vs Santam Insurance Ltd 1996(1) SA 63 (T)).

For illustrative purposes the common  share-split for most loss of support claims is as follows:

  • Deceased – 2 shares
  • Spouse –2 shares each
  • Children – 1 share each
  • Nieces/Nephews – 1 share each
  • Parents/Grandparents – 1 share each

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