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Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994

Category: Legislation
Binomial Name: Government of the Republic of South Africa
Date: 2 December 1994
Sub Category:Legislation
State/Country:Republic of South Africa
Summary Information:
The Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994 (Cth) (the Act) commenced on 2 December 1994. The Act's purpose is to provide for the restitution of land to people or communities who were dispossessed as 'a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices'; as well as to establish two bodies to deal with the land restitution process, namely the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (the Commission), and the Land Claims Court.

The right to restitution or equitable redress for dispossession of property is a right contained in the Bill of Rights (Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa). The dispossession must have occurred after 19 June 1913 (the date of the enactment of Natives Land Act 1913, which curtailed the land ownership and acquisition rights of black South Africans) in order for a claim to be made (s 25(7) Constitution). In addition, the Act makes clear that holders of property rights less than full ownership (including long-standing tenants) are also entitled to claim for restitution.

Claims for restitution are made against the state: where land earmarked for restitution belongs to an individual, the state must pay compensation to its current legal owner. Restitution can also be in the form of cash payments; alternative state land; or priority access to State housing and land.
Detailed Information:
The Act stipulates that the Commission will investigate and establish the merits of claims, as well as mediate and negotiate between all parties involved in a claim. If there is still a dispute with regards to ownership or compensation, the Act stipulates that the matter shall be referred to the Land Claims Court. The Commission also has the power to ensure that 'priority is given to claims which affect a substantial number of persons, or persons who have suffered substantial losses as a result of dispossession or persons with particularly pressing needs' (s 6(2)(d)).

The Act was amended by the Land Restitution and Reform Amendment Act, 1999 'these amendments have resulted in the speeding up of the restitution process by doing away with the need for a claim to be referred to the Court where the interested parties have reached agreement as to how a claim should be finalised.' (Commission on Restitution of Land Rights).

Related Entries

  • Richtersveld Community Land Settlement
  • Makuleke Community Land Settlement
  • District Six Land Settlement
  • Organisation
  • Commission on Restitution of Land Rights
  • Land Claims Court
  • Department of Land Affairs (South Africa)
  • Legislation
  • Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996
  • Case Law
  • Alexkor Limited v The Richtersveld Community and Others Case CCT19/03
  • Policy/Strategy
  • Apartheid
  • Riemvasmaak Community Land Settlement
  • South African Land Reform Programme

  • Glossary


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