IN QUOTES | From land expropriation to rural development: Ronald Lamola on Land Court Bill

02 March 2021 - 10:23
By Cebelihle Bhengu
Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said the land court will have both judicial and additional functions such as conflict resolution and mediation.
Image: GCIS Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said the land court will have both judicial and additional functions such as conflict resolution and mediation.

Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said the establishment of the land court will ensure stronger judicial oversight and help reduce corruption related to land claims.

Lamola and agriculture minister Thoko Didiza addressed a media briefing on Monday about the introduction of the Land Court Bill. The bill was approved by the cabinet last week for submission to parliament.

Lamola said the court will be tasked with providing clear guidelines for compensation for land claimants. He also said claimants will have access to legal services via Legal Aid which will receive financial and other support to broaden its services.

Didiza welcomed the bill. She said the land court will ensure a speedy resolution to disputes some of which have not been resolved since 1998.

Here are five important quotes from Lamola's address:

Oral evidence will be considered

“The bill still allows for hearsay evidence for most families who have to rely on oral history and the existence of elders with knowledge of the description, location and the extent of land which their descendants previously occupied.”

Rural development

“While the bill on its own may not be a silver bullet which can help us undo the effects of colonialism, it is an important step which can enable land reform, which is inextricably linked to rural development, and [in] addressing the socio-economic challenges that plague us.”

Land expropriation without compensation 

“The bill includes the expropriation bill that is currently before parliament. We have taken a narrow approach for the courts to gradually start with some of the bills and that's why we have listed them. As time goes on the legislations may be increased, but we are starting with the ones the land court is handling.”

The bill allows for community involvement 

“This bill allows land activists [to represent claimants]. We are hoping that most disputes will end up being resolved at the arbitration and mediation stage because we want involvement at the land commission and whoever owns the land or property can still negotiate before the matter goes to the land court.”

Corruption

“Ultimately the bill seeks to ensure stronger judicial oversight over claims and this must lead to better settlements, reduce the scope of corruption and avert the bundling of claims into dysfunctional mega-claims that lead to conflict.”