SA Cabinet Approves Land Bill

Pretoria – Cabinet has approved the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, which proposes the deadline for all land claims to be extended to 2018.

The amendment will also seek to criminalise false and fraudulent claims that have - after consultations with members of the public during hearings - been seen as a waste of taxpayers’ money, where people “take chances” to submit land claims, knowing fully well that they do not have a valid historic claim to a piece of land.

Briefing journalists at Thedimosetso House in Pretoria on Thursday, acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said the bill had since been referred to Parliament for consideration.

“The bill amends the Restitution Act [also for the] simplification of the procedure for the appointment of judges to the Land Claims Court; and the amendment of certain provisions aimed at promoting the effective implementation of the act,” Williams said.

Williams also said that the re-opening of the lodgement of claims was in line with the proposals of the National Development Plan (NDP), as well as the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme as well as other growth strategies “intended to promote national reconciliation and social cohesion”.

Meanwhile, Williams said Cabinet also approved the submission of the report on the Audit of Registered State Land and a desktop analysis of private land ownership in South Africa for submission to Parliament.

The purpose of the audit was to determine how much land was currently owned by the state, and to ascertain what the land was used for.

“Land information is critical to the success of all land developments in the country.

“[The land audit] will be used to enhance the integrity of the land register, which would serve as the basis for enhanced land planning and administration, including other functions relating to property portfolio management and improved delivery of services.”

About 1.15 million land parcels have been surveyed around the country.

Mmuso Riba, the chief surveyor-general at the Rural Development and Land Reform Department, said from the land parcels that were surveyed, it was found that the state-owned 14% of the land in South Africa, while 79% of the land was privately-owned.

He said about 7% of the land was not registered.

“There is about four million hectares of land in the former Transkei that is not registered but we have finalised the surveying thereof.”

He said the land, which is currently occupied by citizens, would be transferred either to the state or to private owners once the verification process has been concluded.