The expropriation orders served on Gauteng farmer OJ Botha and the Lutheran Church this month mark the start of applying the government’s controversial policy of negotiating no longer than six months with owners of land under claim. This is according to chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya, who announced the policy earlier this year.
The commission announced on 9 October that the church’s 21 000ha property in the Northern Cape and Krokodilspruit farm near Cullinan in Gauteng would be expropriated. The church had wanted R70 million and rejected an offer of R35 million based on a market-related valuation. The owner of the Gauteng farm had wanted close to R1 million but was offered about half, the commission said. It is understood the farmer had earlier agreed to sell on condition he would be entitled to mine on the land, which was rejected by the claimants.Four other potential expropriation cases are nearing finalisation, and scores of landowners in Gongolo, KZN can expect to be next in line if they don’t accept government offers being made this month for their land based on a second valuation after they rejected the government’s first offer last year. “Once they’ve received our revised offers they can count six months, then we will expropriate,” Gwanya said.
Landowners receiving a notice of possible expropriation are able to lodge objections or revise their position before the order is made final. The first farmer subjected to these proceedings, Hannes Visser in North West, was granted an extension during this period and later made government a counter-offer, which was accepted. The same could apply in the two new cases.A submission is also en route to Gwanya recommending expropriation of Melkhoutkopies near Makhado, Limpopo, belonging to the Nichols family.
Earlier this year Gwanya had promised a wave of expropriations, which never materialised. He said this was because about 200 farmers in Limpopo and 70 in Mpumalanga had agreed to sell after he informed them he’d be recommending expropriation. “The farmers came back and accepted our offers, so there was no need to expropriate.”Agri SA’s land affairs spokesperson Theo de Jager said the union did not object to the six-month rule in principle, but questioned whether the commission could guarantee bona fide negotiations had taken place.“As long as it was linked to a second valuation we will accept it,” he said. “There must be checks and balances so that the landowners get a fair price.” – Stephan Hofstätter