Restitution of Land Rights and the Geomatics Community in South Africa


Land reform and land tenure

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Aslam Parker, Chief Directorate: National Geo-Spatial Information, South Africa,


The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No. 108 of 1996), provides for restitution of property or equitable redress to a person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices. The Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 (as amended), was promulgated to provide for the restitution of rights in land to persons or communities dispossessed of such rights after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices.

According to the Act a “right in land” means any right in land whether registered or unregistered, and may include the interest of a labour tenant and sharecropper, a customary law interest, the interest of a beneficiary under a trust arrangement and beneficial occupation for a continuous period of not less than 10 years prior to the dispossession in question. The inability of the Department of Rural Development of Land Reform (DRDLR) to accurately report on the location, extent and the relevant affected historical and current cadastral parcels affected by land claims can mainly be attributed to lack of involvement and influence of geomatics professionals, both Land Surveyors and GISc professionals in the land restitution process. By highlighting various scenarios, this paper will illustrate how critical it is for geomatics professionals to be involved in the restitution process, and will demonstrate how geo-spatial tools and expertise can greatly speed up and add value to the process.

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