President Cyril Ramaphosa gives go-ahead for establishment of Land Court

President Cyril Ramaphosa has approved the establishment of a permanent court on land issues. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has approved the establishment of a permanent court on land issues. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Published Sep 27, 2023


President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Land Court Act, which will pave the way for the establishment of the permanent court to settle land disputes.

The new law will also allow for the appointment of judges on a permanent basis.

The law abolishes the Land Claims Court and sets up the Land Court as a permanent institution to resolve land disputes in the country.

Previously, judges who served on the Land Claims Court were not full-time.

But two years ago government sent the Land Court bill to Parliament to establish the permanent court on land disputes.

Ramaphosa said on Wednesday with the Land Court in place permanent judges with a Judge President and Deputy President will be appointed.

The court will also try and deal with the backlog of cases as the judges who served in the Land Claims Court were not permanent.

“The Land Court Act establishes a specialist and permanent Land Court which will replace the Land Claims Court which was a court with a limited lifespan.

“This means permanent judges of the Land Court can now be appointed. The Land Court will have exclusive jurisdiction and power in respect of a number of aspects which have a bearing on land more specifically on restitution claims arising from the Restitution Act.

“It also will deal with matters from the Application of the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act and shares jurisdiction with magistrates’ courts in respect of matters arising from the application of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act. The Land Court will resolve the challenges that were experienced under these Acts such as backlogs in land claims and dispute resolution mechanisms when disputes arise. It will also contribute immensely to the implementation of the Land Reform Programme. In addition, the Act makes provision for the administration and judicial functions of the Land Court and for mediation procedures,” said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya.

The signing of the bill into law will play a crucial role in resolving land rights issues in the country.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on land reform, told parliament last week that they want to speed up the land reform programme in the country.

He said the Land Claims Commission had settled more than 83,000 claims since 1998, during the first deadline to lodge claims.

But now they are left with the backlog of 5,000 land claims dating back to the 1998 deadline.

Mashatile also warned that the government would require R172 billion to settle claims in South Africa over the next 30 years.

What the government wanted to do was to resolve the issue of large amounts paid to landowners.

Mashatile said they have been paying inflated prices for land, but they want to try and deal with this issue.