The controversial Expropriation Bill, 2015, is set to replace the previous Expropriation Bill, 2013, and many feel it is just as unconstitutional.
The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) has criticised the draft law as unconstitutional and not in the public interest. While the Government feels that the new bill will provide a just and equitable basis with which to expropriate land, the 2015 Bill is in conflict with the Constitution in terms of the property clause contained in section 25 of the Constitution, 1996, the right of access to the Courts in section 34, and the housing clause, with its guarantee against evictions from people’s homes, in section 26. In particular, the Bill will allow the State to–
- expropriate any type of property it deems fit, for public purposes or in the public interest;
- expropriate the property by mere service of an expropriation notice on the landowner;
- obtain ownership on the date provided in the expropriation notice, which could in fact be shortly after service of the notice;
- force the landowner to accept an offer, provided that the landowner may contest the offer of compensation, BUT the failure to contest a second offer from the State, which may not necessarily be a revised offer, within 60 days of the offer by way of Court proceedings, equates to the landowner being deemed as having accepted the offer; and
- force the landowner to pay the State’s legal costs, if a Court decides that a smaller amount of compensation than the offer from the State is payable to the landowner, which costs will be deducted from the compensation, leaving only the balance, if any, to be paid to the landowner.
The new Bill empowers the State and grants the State powers that far outweigh the powers of the landowner, despite the protection an owner enjoys in the common law, which stipulates that the State cannot simply perform a ‘land grab’, which many feel the Expropriation Bill, 2015 essentially authorises, especially when considering the proposed Policy that intends to limit the size of land ownership of individuals to prescribed maximum areas of land.
What does this mean for you, the land owner? This means that you, the landowner, will need to dig deep into your pockets within the 60 day limit to fight the expropriation! Contact McCarthy and Associates Attorneys and issue summons before the 60 day period expires. If you fail to do so, the offer of the State will be deemed to be accepted and ownership will pass to the State.