Supreme Court of Appeal ruling against Ingonyama Trust a victory for communal land rights

Issued by Thandeka Mbabama – DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
24 Aug 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Thandeka Mbabama, MP

The DA welcomes the ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to reject Ingonyama Trust’s appeal to set aside a Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling which declared the Trust’s policy of making communal land occupants sign leases and pay rent as unlawful.

With the SCA ruling that the appeal has no prospect of success, the Trust is now required to stop forthwith the practice of signing lease agreements with communal land occupiers and pay back all rentals that it has received to date.

In addition to forcing communal land occupants into restrictive land leases, Ingonyama Trust had essentially reduced people to tenants on their ancestral land. This approach was particularly hard on women who were told that they could only enter into leases in the presence of a man.

The SCA ruling has given hope to communal land occupants across the country whose security of tenure has always been tenuous due to paternalistic land administration systems.

More importantly, the ruling now places the onus on Parliament and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to come up with legislation that would entrench and protect the rights of communal land occupants. Failure to do so will be a betrayal of our rural population which has spent years fighting to guarantee their rights to land ownership.