Rights group AfriBusiness said on Wednesday it would provide free legal aid to the first of its members impacted by the government’s drive to expropriate land without compensation.

Parliament last month voted in favour of a motion brought by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters and supported by the ruling African National Congress to amend the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.

On Wednesday Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said her department had already identified such land.

The government says expropriation is necessary to correct ownership imbalances where minority whites own the bulk of land forcibly taken from blacks centuries ago.

“We are ready to institute legal action on behalf of the first AfriBusiness member whose property is expropriated without compensation in terms of an amendment of the property clause in the Constitution,” AfriBusiness CEO Piet le Roux said.

“Expropriation without compensation is theft, irrespective of whether it is made constitutional or not.”

He said the dilution of property rights in South Africa would lead to extensive economic harm and social disruption and reverse the gains of land restitution since 1994 when white minority apartheid rule fell.

AfriBusiness is a 12 000 member business organisation that supports property rights and free markets.