All new land claim applications have been frozen in the wake of the Constitutional Court declaring the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act (“the Amendment Act”) invalid in the case of Land Access Movement of South Africa and Others v Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and Others.
The Restitution of Land Rights Act was enacted in 1994 to afford people and communities until 31 December 1998 an opportunity to lodge claims for restitution or redress if they were dispossessed of land after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices.
The 2014 Amendment Act, effectively sought to re-open that window that closed on 31 December 1998, until 30 June 2019, in order that more land claims could be made. Since the Act came into being in 2014, approximately 75 000 – 80 000 land claims have been lodged.
The Constitutional Court cited the lack of adequate public consultation before the Amendment Act was passed as the reasoning behind its ruling. Due to South Africa’s discriminatory past, the court emphasised the importance of public participation in the legislative process.
Effectively, this ruling puts a stop to new claims being made. However, claims that were made prior to the judgement on 29 July 2016, will continue to exist. The court has gone further to interdict the Land Claims Commission from considering, processing and settling new claims for a period of two years pending Parliament’s re-enactment of the Amendment Act or finalising of the claims filed by 31 December 1998, whichever happens first.
Please note that this article is not a full summary of the Judgment, however, if you wish to read it, please click here.