Current 1975 Expropriation Act unconstitutional: Mahlati

Vuyo Mahlati
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The Deputy Chairperson of the Presidential Panel of Experts on Land, Vuyo Mahlati, says the current 1975 Expropriation Act is unconstitutional.

Mahlati who participated in the Constitutional dialogue between various stakeholders and Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on amending Section 25 of the Constitution, says the 1975 Act is still being relied on for expropriation purposes, while the new Bill to repeal the Act is still in process.

“The tension right now is that we have a constitution, even outside of being amended, that relates to just and equitable compensation. We are sitting with an Expropriation Act of 1975 that precedes the 1996 Constitution and it is seriously unconstitutional.”

“If you read that Expropriation Act of 1975, it is specifically market based, and there is a legal term which I forgot, you further get a sweetener for having agreed,” said Mahlati.

Lawyer Matome Chidi who also participated in the dialogue suggests that 1913 should be removed from the property clause in Section 25 of the Constitution which deals with land restitution.

He told Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on Amending Section 25 on Wednesday that dispossession did not only take place after 1913.

The Constitution makes provision for restitution only to those who were dispossessed of their land after June 19, 1913, the year that the Natives Land Act came into effect, said Chidi: “There is no need in my view to limit the programme to the year 1913, because the dispossession, annexation and others – happened long before this specific year [1913].

“This year [1913] was just a consolidation of the practice that had already existed. So as a proposal of what should further be done. I would propose that this specific aspects 1913 be taken out of the constitution. So, it would be amended by way of deletion,” added Chidi.


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