Land claims must still go through the courts - Agri SA tells land owners

As land expropriation without compensation gains momentum, agricultural industry association Agri SA has taken it upon itself to alert land owners to the action they can take.

"Agri SA wants to point out that this is not expropriation without compensation and there are legal remedies available to the landowner," said Annelize Crosby, Agri SA's Head of Centre of Excellence: Land.

READ: Truth the biggest loser in land expropriation debate

Crosby said the courts should assist land owners if the government expropriates "before the validity of the claim is settled by the court".

Crosby's comments came after a City Press report over the weekend revealed that two game farms in Limpopo appeared to be the first properties that would be expropriated without following a court process.

The owners, who dispute the validity of the land claims lodged against their property, want R200m for the land, while the government has offered them R20m.

READ: Who will protect you when the ANC comes for the land?

Valid claim

A letter written to Akkerland Boerdery, owners of a luxury hunting farm in Makhado in Limpopo, read in part: "Notice is hereby given that a terrain inspection will be held on the farms on April 5, 2018 at 10am in order to conduct an audit of the assets and a handover of the farm's keys to the state."

The owners objected to the expropriation notice of the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform at the time.

Crosby said the minister's expropriation power could only be exercised if there was a valid claim under the Restitution of Land Rights Act.

"The minister is bound by the provisions of the Administrative Justice Act and must consider all submissions made to her in such a process. If she does not, her decision can be reviewed by the court."

Crosby said that any dispute over compensation must be resolved by the court, but it did not necessarily have to take place before expropriation.

According to the Expropriation Act, 80% of the compensation offered must be paid to the owner on the date of the expropriation, Crosby added.

"The owner may then approach the court to determine compensation. According to reports, the landowners are in the process of exercising their legal remedies."

She added: "Agri SA is however concerned about the formula used by the valuer-general to determine fair compensation and believes that the formula should be tested in court."

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