Land reform in South Africa is drawing increasing attention from local and international quarters as individuals, corporations, state and private entities seek to demystify a rather contentious topic.

Land restitution, redistribution and reform cannot be discussed in isolation from the country’s legacy issues and the consequent vulnerability to misinterpretation of land access rights and eligibility criteria. Additionally, poor interpretation of legislative changes has often marked the landscape, leaving most people unclear as to what their rights are or how historical wrongs might be redressed.

Section 25 of the Constitution deals with and codifies the national policy on land, and directs the State to take positive steps on restitution, redistribution and tenure security – the three pillars of the land policy. Initially, the policies developed in response to section 25 focused mostly on agricultural and farming land, and urban land has hardly featured. With a shift in focus as time has gone by, issues of security of tenure have become increasingly important.

Matters concerning land impact all corners of society, including financial institutions, farmers, landowners, property developers, land claimants and communities. They face issues such as uncertainty in the changing landscape, concerns over security of tenure, unlawful invasions and the importance of understanding the role that entities can play in achieving restitution, to mention a few.

Proactive, strategic advice considers historical and current realities

Land reform matters often unfold in a politically charged arena that is typically fraught with misinterpretation and where emotions may run high. This immediately points to the need for expert and proactive legal advice that combines a deep knowledge of South Africa’s historical matters and a sound interrogation and interpretation of the current legal landscape as regards land restitution, redistribution and reform.

The Land Reform Practice provides multi-faceted and strategic advice that is mindful of the peculiarities that may affect each client’s unique needs. Whether considering the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act, the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, the Property Valuators Bill or the Expropriation Bill, our lawyers apply innovative thinking to tackle matters sometimes considered “no man’s land”.

Our clients can expect to be competently guided through their matters with great focus and dedication from highly qualified lawyers, and navigated through legal complexities to a clear, best-outcome resolution.

Our Land Reform practice has been at the forefront of policy-making: its Head is the only attorney on the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and, as such, as influenced and been involved in cutting-edge policy changes. Recommendations that have emanated from this work find themselves in recent legislative reform and policies adopted and implemented by the Department of Land Reform, Rural Development and Agriculture.

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