The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


South Africa is committed to land reform.  Because land is what shapes our national identity, the land dispossession of black people by the hand of white colonizers shapes the importance of land reform in South Africa. After the Natives’ Land Act of 1913, rights to own, rent, or even sharecrop land in South Africa depended upon a person’s racial classification. This was furthered by the Native Trust and Land Act of 1936. In 1994, however, the new government passed a Land Restitution Act. The land reform policy, Reconstruction and Development Programme, aimed to redress the injustices of apartheid, foster national reconciliation and stability, and improve household welfare and alleviate poverty. The Reconstruction and Development Programme framework has three major elements: redistribution, restitution, and land tenure reform. The goal of redistribution is to provide the disadvantaged with access to land for residential and productive purposes.  The intention is to improve people’s access to municipal and tribal land used primarily for grazing purposes. Land restitution usually involves returning land lost because of racially discriminatory laws. Lastly, land tenure reform aims to bring all people occupying land under one legal system of landholding. The Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act, the Land Reform Act, and the Extension of Security of Tenure Act have been introduced to protect the interests of farm workers and labour tenants living on other people’s land. The ultimate goal is to rehaul and reconcile the past land acts which wrongly based land rights on a person’s racial classification.

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