British Prime Minister Theresa May says the United Kingdom supports land reform as long as it is legal and carried out by a democratic process. May was responding to questions from the media after addressing the South Africa-UK business forum in Cape Town.

She is in South Africa for a working visit to hold bilateral discussions with the South African government. May says she welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s earlier comments on the land question when the president was in the UK earlier this year.

“The UK has for some time now supported land reform, land reform that is legal, that is transparent, and that is generated through a democratic process. It is an issue that I have raised and discussed with President Ramaphosa when he was in London earlier this year. I will be talking to him later today, but I welcome the comments that he  already made about  approaching land reform bearing in mind the economic and social consequences. And I think he has made reference to ‘No smash and grab land reform’.”

Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa has thanked Prime Minister May for returning the ship’s bell of the SS Mendi to South Africa. May handed the bell to Ramaphosa at Tuynhuis in Cape Town ahead of bilateral talks forming part of her three-country visit to Africa.

The Mendi, carrying mainly black South African troops, sank in British waters more than 100 years ago during the First World War. Its bell turned up in south-western England last year.

Ramaphosa has told May South Africa is grateful for this gesture. “Please accept our gratitude and appreciation for the gesture that honours the memory of those  brave men who died. The gift of the bell is like returning their souls to the land of their birth. Today we can once again say may their souls rest in peace.”

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