The public is encouraged to submit their comments on the Land Expropriation Bill before February 10.
Speaking to BusinessTech, legal firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr said that the comment period is important as there are a number of potential issues with the draft Bill.
“The bill attempts to protect individuals’ Constitutional rights while implementing its objectives in historical redress, (but) there are areas within the bill which have glaring issues and will ultimately be problematic should consideration not be had to these issues,” it said.
The law firm drew attention to the following:
The bill leaves uncertainty in regards to the impact on financial institutions, especially in the case of a mortgagee with a property that may be expropriated.
While section 18 of the bill aims to provide some direction for a property to be expropriated which is subject to a mortgage, but according to the law firm, the bill leaves much to be desired regarding the position of mortgagees.
“What we would like to see is a clear definition of a financial institution as a right holder insofar as the encumbered property is concerned,” the firm said. “Due consultation should be held with the financial institutions as mortgagees during the process of expropriation – whilst currently there is no clear obligation on the expropriating authority to engage with financial institutions as mortgagees prior to the contemplation of compensation for the property to be expropriated.”
Section 12 (3) of the bill lists the circumstances under which land can be expropriated without any compensation at all.
“There are many aspects of this section that need to be addressed in order to provide clarity and certainty and to avoid the arbitrary deprivation of citizen’s right to property,” the firm said.
Another area that requires attention is the absence of the process of due service of relevant notices to property owners in foreign jurisdictions. The firm pointed out that this may give preference to foreign owners, and this is unconstitutional.
You can find out more about the bill and the details on how to submit comments here.