The Ga Mawela Communal Property Association (CPA) has brought an application before the Claims Court to review decisions by the minister of agriculture and land affairs, Lulama Xingwana, in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. The community is opposing a condition under which it will require the permission of the minister before it may alienate, encumber or dispose of the property restored to it by the Land Claims Court.
In July 2006, the community won the restoration of its ancestral land, which forms part of the Der Brochen platinum mine, near Steelpoort, Limpopo, after a five-year battle against global mining giant Anglo Platinum. At the time, the court was satisfied that the community had proven its capacity to manage the land and that it would be feasible to restore the land, subject to the mineral rights held by Anglo Platinum. The Land Claims Court ordered the state “within a reasonable time, to acquire or expropriate the farm and restore it”. In court papers, the Ga Mawela CPA confirms that their attorneys requested a meeting between the community and the regional land claims commissioner (RLCC) for Mpumalanga to discuss the proposed conditions of title. The community’s stance was that the conditions would unreasonably limit its newfound rights of ownership. However, the meeting failed to find a resolution. “I requested a copy of the policy in terms of which the minister took the decision to impose the conditions of title, but the RLCC indicated that there was no policy available,” a community spokesperson said. “We therefore persisted that the clause in question was unlawful and inappropriate.” The community pointed out in court papers that the CPA Act had set out other provisions designed to protect the community’s interests. “None of these authorises the minister to impose a condition of this kind,” the community said. “And one of the fundamental components of the right to own property is the right to alienate and encumber the property. These are rights which were routinely denied to the majority of citizens during apartheid.” – Staff reporter