Two farms in the Limpopo province in South Africa have become the first properties to be seized without any court process and in the past week, two more orders for final appropriation for other farms have been signed—the first wave of the promised land seizures in that country, the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport has revealed.
The Akkerland game farm in the Limpopo Province.
According to the report, the owners of the two seized farms were earlier this year offered R20 million each for the farms by the government, even though they were valued at R200 million each, and their owners had contested the validity of the “land claims” which had been made against them.
The head of the office of “land reform” in the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mashile Mokono, told the Rapport newspaper that the minister, Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, was “determined to speed up land reform.”
In this regard, the minister has this past week signed another two expropriation orders “where negotiations on the properties have ground to a halt.”
Both of the newly-seized properties belong to the Akkerland Boerdery (“Akkerland Farming”) company, which runs the properties as game farms. The owners had previously acquired an urgent court order halting the seizure of the properties until a decision was made on the legality of the seizure, but this seems to have now fallen by the wayside in terms of the new seizure order.
The lawyer representing Akkerland Boerdery, Theon Smith, told the Rapport that he and his clients were still going to contest the price being offered for the farms, and also the land claim itself, which had been made by blacks from the local Musekwa community.
Smith said the “disturbing” part of his client’s case was that the minister had ignored the law which said that they should have an opportunity to contest the seizure in court.
Annelize Crosby, the legal advisor for one of the large agricultural unions, AgriSA, confirmed to Rapport that what made the Akkerland Boerdery case unique “is the fact that the owners have not been given the chance to contest the seizure in the courts as the law currently demands.”
Nkoane-Mashabane’s focus on speeding up the “land reform” process comes after the ANC executive decided three weeks ago to proceed with the “land seizure without compensation” program, the Rapport added.
Mokono said that the South African courts would in a number of test cases soon give clarity on what constitutes “reasonable and justifiable” compensation in terms of section 25 of the country’s constitution.