PRESS STATEMENT | Rights of Black Commercial farmers confirmed by the Land Claims Court

Date: 21/02/2022

In 2016, ownership of the farms that were leased to different farmers, some of  by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was transferred from the State to Land claimers in settlement of a land claims lodged against the Farmers. This was done in circumstance in which the Farmers who have been residing and conducting farming operations on the farms for over 40 years, have not been consulted regarding the settlement on the land claims. No arrangements were made with the farmers or alternative land and relocations support were offered.

The transfer of the farm to the Land Claimers resulted in the Farmers being harassed,  threatened and facing eviction.

 The Farmers approached Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) for legal assistance. LHR made attempts to find an amicable solution to this problem, however these attempts were unsuccessful. LHR then launched an application to  the Land Claims Court for the following relief:

  1. that the settlement agreement entered between the State and the Land Claimers be set aside, as well as the decision to award the farms to the Land Claimers
  2. that the Registrar of Deeds be ordered to transfer the farms back into to the name of the State
  3. that the claims of the Land Claimers be referred back to the Regional Land Claims Commission for proper investigating and consultation in terms of the Restitution Act
  4. that the Department of Rural Development together with the Minister of Land Reform engage meaningfully with the Commercial Farmers who must be party to any settlement.

Judgement was handed down on 7 February 2022 by the Acting Judge Barnes of the Land Claims Court granting the relief sought by LHR, with a condition that the parties involved must have a meaningful engagement amongst them failure which the judgment order will take effect.

“It is a great concern to us that the current government callously failed to support black commercial farmers. These farmers were completely ignored in this process, blindsided and treated with contempt. If this government is serious about land reform, they would not simply tick the box of transferring land but would ensure that due process is followed and that the rights of black farmers are acknowledged and supported”  said Louise du Plessis, LHR’s Land and Housing Programme Manager.

 Support for this case was generously provided by the Open Society Foundation.

For further information, contact:

Louise du Plessis, Head of LHR Land and Housing Programme


Tel: 082 346 0744

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