13 December 2018

South Africa: A Triumph for Rural Land Rights Holders


Within a few recent weeks, four court judgments of great significance for rural land rights holders have been handed down, affecting no fewer than some 18-million peoples' lives.

First, the Constitutional Court judgment on Maledu in the north-west platinum belt, and then the Gauteng High Court judgment on Xolobeni - the Wild Coast site where an Australian company set its sights on mining heavy minerals - at last have given teeth to the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) in ruling that community consent (not just consultation) is required before land can be used for mining.

For 150 years, a fundamental of South African land law has been that "mining rules". Now, three cases in a few weeks have turned that on its head: two cases based on IPILRA and one on the primacy of consultation before ministerial decisions on Protected Areas.

It has taken 25 years of "Interim" for the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights of 1996 to be enforced - ironically against the very government that gave birth...

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