26 October 2018

South Africa: Ruling 'Fundamentally Changes Power Dynamics' As Communities Win Big in Concourt

Photo: Ciaran Ryan/GroundUp
The Constitutional Court of South Africa
analysis

A Constitutional Court ruling on Thursday has fundamentally changed the power balance between mining companies and communities. The court upheld the Lesethleng community's land tenure rights, meaning companies will no longer simply be able to evict occupants of the land they want to mine.

Representatives of mining communities believe Thursday's unanimous Constitutional Court ruling on mining in Lesethleng, North West will fundamentally shift the power dynamics between mining-affected communities and companies.

"The existence of a mineral right does not itself extinguish the rights of a landowner or any other occupier of the land in question," said the judgment penned by Acting Judge Xola Petse.

Petse began the judgment by quoting Franz Fanon on the dispossession of land under colonialism and added, in his own words, "Thus, strip someone of their source of livelihood, and you strip them of their dignity too."

The Lesethleng Community Village bought its farm in 1919 but due to racially discriminatory laws it had to be registered in the name of the native commissioner, who held it in a trust for the leader of the...

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