New South African Bill: Five types of property up for ‘expropriation without compensation’

The South African Government has tabled the types of property it will be targeting for land expropriation without compensation, following reports of a leaked document at the start of December.

Published in a government gazette on 21 December, the amended Expropriation Bill is largely similar to current expropriation laws – including how compensation should be calculated, urgent expropriation (like in the case of natural disasters), the interest payable on compensation and the formalities of identifying which land is suitable for expropriation.

However, the new Bill also introduces a new section which explicitly states when it would be fair and equitable to withhold compensation. These circumstances include:

  1. Land occupied by a labour tenant as under the Restitution of Land Rights Act;
  2. Land that has been purchased for ‘speculative’ purposes;
  3. Land owned by a state-owned enterprise;
  4. Land which has been abandoned by a landowner;
  5. When the market value of the land is equal or less than the present value of direct state investment or subsidisation for the purchase of beneficial capital improvement of the land.

The Bill is now open for public comment and has been officially titled the ‘Expropriation Act, 2019’. No formal commencement date has been provided but instead, the bill states that it will come into operation on a date determined by the president.

The bill also states that different dates may be determined in respect of different provisions of the act, which could open the door for revisions and changes to be made to the above expropriation without compensation changes, while the rest of the bill is pushed through.


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