Owing to a sharp increase in the number of land claims listed in the Government Gazette, the Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI) on Friday said it was helping farmers whose properties were listed to react to the listing and prepare for possible court cases.
SAAI explained that landowners across South Africa were being served with listings, leading to uncertainty and confusion, as well as a decline in investment and development on affected properties.
However, it called for calm, saying there was no need to panic over land claim listings.
“The publication of a land claim in the Government Gazette is by no means yet an indication of the validity thereof, or of the state’s intention to transfer the property to the claimants. It is simply an indication that the claim complies with the administrative requirements on face value, and that the land claims commission is working on it. Affected owners don’t need the state’s permission for further development, but need to inform the land claims commission thereof,” SAAI explained.
It went on to explain that the process of transferring properties in land claims was slow and elaborate, citing voluntary sellers who accepted offers on their farms in Mooketsi in Polokwane in 2003 having, to date, not yet received purchase agreements.
“Lawyers performing transfers in Mpumalanga have been sitting with incomplete transactions since 2007, and certain farms are in the meantime repeatedly listed in favour of other claimants. Conflicting claims lead to big tension between claimants and cause conflict between communities,” SAAI said.
Large parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal still had land claim listings, some of which have been delayed for 17 years without any further steps being taken.
“The Department of Land Reform and Rural Development is nearly paralysed by comprehensive corruption, nepotism and ineptness, and its ability to effectively manage the processes and procedures regarding land claims is extremely limited,” SAAI stated.
SAAI said it was sceptical about the department’s potential to clean up its act and said it was also striving towards helping to extend the powers of the Zondo commission of inquiry into State capture to also investigate land reform.Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia