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Post S Africa Land Expropriations: Who Are the "Rightful" Owners? (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 08/08/18 5:22 AM

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S Africa Land Expropriations: Who Are the "Rightful" Owners? (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 08/08/18 5:22 am)

Gary Moore writes:

Ditto on JE's question re: the August 7 post by Mqondisi Ngadlela/Rodolfo Neirotti:

On the South African farms question, how does Mqondisi define "rightful owners," to whom the farms would be turned over if the government buys them?

JE comments:  "Rightful" is such a simple word, but...

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  • S Africa Land Expropriations: Who Are the "Rightful" Owners? Mqondisi Ngadlela Responds (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 08/10/18 5:10 AM)
    Please see below Mqondisi Ngadlela's answer to Gary Moore's question about the "rightful owners" of South African farmland being considered for expropriation.


    Dear Rodolfo and Colleagues,

    I am afraid I was not claiming to be an expert on land restitution matters in South Africa, but was merely providing my understanding on the present debate and public consultation in respect to the expropriation of land without compensation. More importantly, I was trying to address the naked exaggeration of this issue as it is unfolding in our country.

    May I suggest that those who might want more information on the matter might consider asking the department of Rural Development and Land Reform or the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, which is responsible for implementation of the relevant legislation? Perhaps they might provide insight into the present challenges and the possible how of the proposed intervention.

    That said, I used the word "rightful owner" to carry the same meaning as "entitlement to restitutions" as defined in section 2(1) of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 which states that a person shall be entitled to restitution of a right in land if:

    (a) he or she is a person dispossessed of a right in land after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices; or

    (b) it is a deceased estate dispossessed of a right in land after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices; or

    (c) he or she is the direct descendant of a person referred to in paragraph (a) who has died without lodging a claim and has no ascendant who--

    (i) is a direct descendant of a person referred to in paragraph (a); and

    (ii) has lodged a claim for the restitution of a right in land; or

    (d) it is a community or part of a community dispossessed of a right in land after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices; and

    (e) the claim for such restitution is lodged not later than 31 December 1998.

    I hope this helps,

    Warm regards,

    Mqondisi Ngadlela

    JE comments: Once again, many thanks to Mqondisi and Rodolfo for joining the conversation.  I wonder if the Restitution of Land Rights Act has been "renewed"; note the 1998 deadline for filing a claim.  In any case, the Act does not address lands taken (settled, or occupied) prior to 1913, which presumably would apply to most of the centuries-old Boer farms.

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    • Land Restitution, Squatters, and the Prolific John Dunn (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/10/18 5:00 PM)
      John Eipper (August 10th) asked if the South African Restitution of Land Rights Act has been "renewed."

      In 2014 the SA Parliament enacted amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994. The initial cut-off time of December 31, 1998 for lodging land claims was changed to June 30, 2019. Another amendment stated that the Act will "ensure that priority is given to claims lodged not later than December 31 1998 and which were not finalised."

      John also noted that "In any case, the Act does not address lands taken (settled, or occupied) prior to 1913, which presumably would apply to most of the centuries-old Boer farms." This is true, but other legal actions have been taken to establish title to lands occupied before 1913.

      One of the most interesting cases involves a protracted legal action taken by the heirs of South Africa's most famous Scottish immigrant, John Dunn of Inverness, who fathered more than 117 children by 48 Zulu wives. They won a High Court case giving Dunn's descendants permanent rights to land on the Zululand coast granted to their ancestor by the Zulu king Cetshwayo (whose impis massacred British invaders at the January 1879 Battle of Isandlwana).

      John Dunn died in 1895 at the age of 61, but the British confirmed the "White Chief of Zululand's" family land ownership in the John Dunn Land Distribution Acts of 1902 and 1935. Starting in the 1970s, a neighbouring Zulu chief laid claim to the family's 68 farms--dedicated to sugar cane and providing homes for almost 1,000 Dunn descendants--as his clan's traditional land. Matters became extremely serious from 1996 onwards when the chief, Nkosi Mathaba, a notorious warlord, began settling squatters from his Macambini clan on the Dunn farms in a land invasion similar to those in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Mathaba claimed that the Land Rights Act gave him the right to have the land restituted to his clan (with no legal justification). About 2,000 squatters built shacks on the cane plantations. The legal property owners and their families (who stated during the court proceedings, "We were not White enough for the Apartheid regime, and now we're not Black enough for the ANC government") were subjected to murder, rape, robbery, threats, intimidation and arson. Sugar cane crops were regularly burnt, especially in the dry season. Pat Dunn, the current de facto head of the Dunn extended family, was burnt out five years in a row, her English husband was shot, and the local Community Hall, built by the farmers without government help, was destroyed by fire. Dunn appealed for police help, but nothing was done.

      Mathaba was subsequently found by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to have been among prominent provincial leaders responsible for deploying hit squads, leading to "gross violations of human rights, including killing, attempted killing and arson." He was never prosecuted for his crimes.

      Although the Dunns won their case, they were unable to evict the squatters from their land (the police refused to take any action), and since the recent announcement that the government will proceed with Expropriation Without Compensation (EWC), the attacks and illegal land occupation have resumed. In KwaZulu Natal, where the Dunns' farms are located, Black activists are targeting Coloured farmers (like the Dunns) and Indian smallholders, as well as Whites.

      According to South Africa's Institute for Security Studies, "there are two crucial factors which have allowed those engaged in the illegal occupation of land, including organizers, to operate with impunity: the failure of the SA Police Service (SAPS) to take constructive action to stop them, and the permissive response of the Department of Land Affairs towards such behaviour."

      A further historical note about "Rightful Owners" of land. South Africa's port city of Durban dates from 1824 when the British built a trading post on the northern shore of the Bay of Natal. A strip of coastal land measuring 35 miles along the coast and 100 miles inland was later granted to the British by the Zulu King, Shaka, in gratitude for the medical skills of Henry Fynn, a British adventurer, who nursed Shaka back to life after he was stabbed by a would-be assassin. Recently, Zulus have launched a legal challenge claiming that all this land should be restituted to the Zulu nation because Shaka only intended to "loan" the huge tract of land to the British, and that he considered the British settlers to be his subjects. Such claims are manifestly spurious, as the diplomatic documents clearly show that the Zulu kings recognised that Natal was under the sovereignty of the British Crown, and that the boundary of the Zulu Kingdom was the Tugela river, which Lord Chelmsford's column crossed at the end of December 1878 and which the Zulu's considered an invasion.

      There must be cut-off dates for land restitution or compensation claims, otherwise the descendants of the Lenape Indians that sold Manhattan Island to the Dutch in 1626 for 60 guilders could attempt to reclaim it. Similarly, after the Norman Conquest the King was declared to be the ultimate owner of all land in England, and Queen Elizabeth could declare that she wants it all back. Several years ago a lawsuit was brought in US courts on behalf of Canadian descendants of American Loyalists whose properties were confiscated after they went into exile. The suit was dismissed as frivolous.

      JE comments:  Not white enough, now not black enough.  We are still painfully far away from color-blind justice.  (By the by, I must learn more about that John Dunn.  What a character.)

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      • South Africa Land Expropriations: BBC (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 08/13/18 4:54 AM)
        This recent BBC article on South Africa's land reform clearly explains the complexity of the issue:


        JE comments:  A very informative piece.  Two items to show the difficulty of what's ahead:  Whites make up 9% of the South African population, but own 72% of the private land.  One proponent of expropriations gives this memorable quote:  "We are going to take the land,
        even if it means we're going back to the dark ages. This country must be
        African. We are African."

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        • South African Land Ownership by Race (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 08/13/18 11:27 AM)
          The BBC (and other Western media such as Bloomberg) has fallen for the distorted facts used by the ANC/EFF to justify takings of White-owned property. Whites do not "own 72% of the private land" in South Africa.

          Last November, the Land Audit Report commissioned by the South African government's Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was released. The report showed that Black South Africans were 79% of the population but, as individuals, they directly own 1.2% of the country's rural land and 7% of formally registered property in towns and cities. White South Africans, who constitute 9% of the country's population, directly own 23.6% of the country's rural land and 11.4% of land in towns and cities. The ANC government has stated its opposition to providing land title to impoverished individuals, as was advocated by Hernando de Soto in his seminal work, The Other Path, which persuasively argued that no nation can have a strong market economy without adequate participation in an information framework that records ownership of property and other economic information. His thesis that people outside of the formal economy--"have houses but not titles; crops but not deeds; businesses but not statutes of incorporation"--epitomises South Africa today.

          Only 33% of land in South Africa is owned directly by private individuals of all races. Companies, trusts, the state, traditional authorities, churches and community organisations own the rest. For example, in KwaZulu-Natal, about 52 percent of farmland is owned by tribal trusts. The government land audit did not establish the racial ownership composition of 67% of land in the country. Only 2% of the land is directly in the hands of foreigners

          In the 23-year period examined by the audit, R90.3bn (about US$6.3bn) was spent on land that is now owned by black people. Of this, the government bought 2.8 million hectares, for which it paid R20.5bn (US$1.45bn). Large areas of this land are today underutilised or fallow. I believe that the government would have achieved far more of its worthy goals if it had simply made the R20.5bn available to prospective black farmers who want to buy land through a financial institution such as the Land Bank.

          Objectively, why should it matter which race (or private or corporate entities) owns land if it is productive (i.e. employs workers and provides agricultural products)? In the USA, the USDA reports that 30% of American farmland is owned by non-operators or corporations which lease it to farmers.

          In South Africa, policy is being driven by misperception, emotion and selfish political ambition instead of facts and pragmatism, as demonstrated by the woman quoted as saying "We are going to take the land, even if it means we're going back to the dark ages.This country must be African. We are African." And, by the way, many South African Whites consider themselves just as "African" as the descendants of the Bantu-speaking people who migrated to modern South Africa centuries after the arrival of the Dutch settlers. Today, "African" is code for "Black," which is the reason that other races and mixed races in addition to Whites are being attacked and harassed to drive them out of the country.

          JE comments:  The BBC did give the 72% figure for "private land that is held by individuals."  (I was guilty of the oversimplification.)  Twenty-three percent of the totality would approximately equal 72% of that 33% (23.6/33=.715).  Still, these numbers create a distorted picture of overall land ownership and use.

          Here, once again, is the Beeb article:


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