UMass Boston

Sindiso Weeks

GISD - Dean's Office
Bayside Floor 4

Areas of Expertise

Law and society, human rights, human security, and human development, interface between culture/indigeneity and human rights/state law, gender and women's rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, governance and participatory democracy, deviance, informal justice, and community-based conflict management, political economy, colonial–postcolonial African history, community-based participatory and action-research methods 


DPhil, Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford (UK)
MSt, Legal Research, University of Oxford (UK)
LLB, Law, University of Cape Town (South Africa)
BA, Law, Philosophy, and Language, University of Cape Town (South Africa)

Additional Information

Sindiso Mnisi Weeks has served as a senior researcher in the Centre for Law and Society at the University of Cape Town (UCT). In her role at UCT, she worked on the Rural Women's Action-Research program. This program combines research, advocacy, and policy work on women, property, and governing authority under customary law. She also taught African Customary Law as a senior lecturer in UCT's Department of Private Law. In 2013-2014, she was a resident scholar at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, where she held a fellowship for the completion of a book.

Mnisi Weeks has published in academic and popular media on customary law, women’s rights, cultural rights, governance, participatory democracy, dispute management, and the South African constitution. As a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, she researched the tensions between living customary law(s) and South African state law. Prior to Oxford, she clerked for the Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Dikgang Moseneke. Her current work focuses on the pursuit of justice and human security in indigenous courts by poor women and men living in rural South Africa.

As a young researcher, Mnisi Weeks is highly rated by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. She has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Women in Science Award for the Development of Rural Women through Science and Technology.

Professional Publications & Contributions


Mnisi Weeks, S. (2018). Access to justice and human security: Cultural contradictions in rural South Africa. Cultural Diversity and Law Series. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


Himonga, C., Nhlapo, T. R., Maithufi, I. P., Mnisi Weeks, S., Mofokeng, L., & Ndima, D. (2015). African customary law in South Africa: Post-apartheid and living law perspectives. C. Himonga and T. Nhlapo (eds). Cape Town, South Africa: Oxford University Press, Southern Africa.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

Ubink, J., & Mnisi Weeks, S. (In press). "Courting custom: Regulating access to justice in rural South Africa and Malawi." Law and Society Review.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2015-2016). "Access to justice? Dispute management processes in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa." New York Law School Law Review, 60(1), 227. 

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2016). "Women seeking justice at the intersections between vernacular and state laws and courts in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa." In H. Klug and S. Merry (eds), The new legal realism, volume 2: Studying law globally. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2015). "Contested democracy and rule of law(s) in pluralistic societies: The example of South Africa." In M. Campos Galuppo, M. Sette Lopes, K. Salgado, T. Bustamante, & L. Gontijo (eds), Human rights, rule of law and the contemporary challenges in complex societies. Stuttgart, Germany: Franz Steiner Verlag. 

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2015). "Insider, outsider: Marriage proposals, advocacy and other ethical quandaries in law and society research." In D. Posel & F. Ross (eds), Ethical quandaries in social research. Pretoria, South Africa: Human Sciences Research Council Press.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2014). "Customary succession and the development of customary law: The Bhe legacy." In Acta Juridica 2014 (pp. 215-255). Also published (2015) in A transformative justice: Essays in honour of Pius Langa. M. Bishop and A. Price (eds). Cape Town, South Africa: Juta and Company. 

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2012). "Women’s eviction in Msinga: The uncertainties of seeking justice." In Acta Juridica 2012 (pp. 118-142). Also published (2013) in Marriage, land and custom: Essays on law and social change in South Africa. A. Claassens and D. Smythe (eds). Cape Town, South Africa: Juta and Company.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2012). "Regulating vernacular dispute resolution forums: Controversy concerning the process, substance and implications of South Africa’s Traditional Courts Bill." Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, 12(1), 133-155.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2011). "Securing women’s property inheritance in the context of plurality: Negotiations of law and authority in Mbuzini customary courts and beyond." Acta Juridica, 140-173. Also published (2012) in Pluralism and development: Studies in access to property in Africa. H Mostert and T Bennett (eds). Cape Town, South Africa: Juta and Company.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2011). “Take your rights then and sleep outside, on the street: Rights, fora and the significance of rural South African women’s choices." Wisconsin International Law Journal, 29(2), 288-318.

Mnisi Weeks, S., & Claassens, A. (2011). "Tensions between vernacular values that prioritise basic needs 
and state versions of customary law that contradict them." Stellenbosch Law Review, 3, 823. Also published in Law and poverty: Perspectives from South Africa and beyond. S. Liebenberg and G. Quinot (eds). Cape Town, South Africa: Juta and Company.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2011). "The Traditional Courts Bill: Controversy around process, substance and implications." South African Crime Quarterly, 35, 3.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2011). "Beyond the Traditional Courts Bill: Regulating customary courts in line with living customary law and the constitution." South African Crime Quarterly, 35, 31.

Claassens, A., & Mnisi Weeks, S. (2009). "Rural women redefining land rights in the context of living customary law." South African Journal on Human Rights, 491.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2007). "(Post)colonial culture and its influence on the South African legal system: Understanding the relationship between living customary law and state law." Zeitschrift für Rechtssoziologie – The German Journal of Law and Society, 28(2), 241-251.

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2002). "Gender as represented by language used in computer-mediated communication." In J. Glenn (ed.), Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Journal: A collection of scholarly works by participants in the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program (pp. 91-96). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

Book Review:

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2008). "(Un)thinking citizenship: Feminist debates in contemporary South Africa," edited by Amanda Gouws. Theoretical Criminology, 12(3), 424-427.

Policy Brief:

Mnisi Weeks, S. (2010). Reconciling living customary law and democratic decentralisation to ensure women’s land rights security. PLAAS Policy Brief 32.