“No corruption in Badplaas” says highest court

The constitutional court has rejected the minister of land affairs and her acting director general’s appeal to overturn rulings by the Land Claims Court and the Supreme of Appeals that there was no evidence of fraudulently inflated land values in the Badplaas area.

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The bench of 11 judges of the Constitutional turned down an application for leave to appeal by simply stating that such an appeal has no potential to be successful. This is a major blow to the ministry and land department’s argument for the scrapping of the willing-seller/willing-buyer principle, as claims of white farmers fraudulently inflating land values in Badplaas were held as the main motivation for doing away with this free market principle at the 2005 Land Summit.

Back then, chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya said a re-evaluation of 21 farms in the Badplaas area indicated that prices for land earmarked for sale to the government had been fraudulently inflated by an average of 30%. Now white farmers can only hope for an apology. They have been slandered by government officials, NGOs, land activists and even the ministry throughout this drawn-out legal process.

Earlier this year, Gwanya was quoted as saying not only white farmers, but also members of his team were responsible for this “corruption” involving about R40 million in tax payers’ money. Despite this latest ruling by South Africa’s highest court, Gwanya says government will persist in its drive to do away with the willing-seller-willing-buyer principle, as there are many examples of white farmers who are unwilling to co-operate with the land reform process.

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The telephonic interview was abruptly terminated before he could provide any examples. Meanwhile, Farmer’s Weekly has obtained extensive lists of willing sellers who, over the last three years, have been unable to sell their land to government for land reform and restitution at market-related prices due to inefficiencies within the Department of Affairs. TAU SA North’s Dries Joubert hinted that this “administrative sabotage and intimidation” may form part of a larger strategy of the ANC.

“Is it a strategy to frustrate white land owners or is it a strategy to protract the process throughout Africa until the promulgation of the expropriation act?” he asked. “It’s not just a strategy to then accuse white land owners of uncooperative behaviour as an excuse for legally sanctioned land grab strategies to cover blatant incompetence and racist overtures in the ANC.”