Land expropriation: 'This is the information we have' - rural development department

Government does not have a list it is using to target farmers, but does have details of farms and their owners it has been negotiating with in the past, rural development department head Mashile Mokono said. 

"It is natural that we should have this information. We negotiate with owners of farms all the time and we obviously know which farmers have accepted and which have refused offers from the state," Mokono told News24 on Friday.

"Some engagements with farmers result in agreement, others don't. There's nothing wrong with us having that information. But we don't have a list which we use to gun for farmers, we don't." 

Afrikaner rights group AfriForum recently published a list of properties they say are being eyed by the department for expropriation. The department has denied that the list is authentic.

READ: How AfriForum's 'expropriation list' devastated two farmers

City Press earlier reported that the ANC had identified 139 farms to serve as test cases for expropriation without compensation.

Hans-Jurie Moolman, a lawyer who has been specialising in land claims litigation for 18 years, says South Africans need to calm down and that the debate around land reform and restitution needs to be managed responsibly.

"People need to be careful. We don't have any amendments to existing legislation nor has the Constitution been changed. The courts have been very clear in how they have prosecuted these cases."

Mokono says the department remains committed to test the limits of legislation and the Constitution with regards to expropriation, but that there is no case currently before the Land Claims Court that could potentially serve as a test case in the Constitutional Court.

'AfriForum should have come to us'

"There are number of cases we are following. We will be guided by the court process, which means if there is a dispute it will need to wind its way through the system up to the highest court."

The department has scoured AfriForum's list, Mokono says, and has found that it is a mixture of farmers the department has previously been in contact with, some who are negotiating with the department and others that the department has "no idea who they are".

"We do not want to sow confusion. AfriForum should have come to us and said: 'We have come across these rumours, ons is baie bekommerd [we are very worried] that you are sitting somewhere and cooking up a list'.

READ MORE: 'Land expropriation list released by AfriForum is legitimate' – IRR

"I know it's difficult to speak to government and that we are not in a good state – we don't have a good reputation at the moment. But there are laws that guide us, we don't want division," Mokono said.

Moolman says South Africa has not reached a point where expropriation without compensation is a reality.

"But what we are going to see will be test cases to see how expropriation can work. I don't believe government will be able to get around not compensating a farmer for the loss of property."

News24 on Thursday spoke to two farmers who offered their farms to the state and whose properties appear on AfriForum's list.

Louis Hauman from the Northern Cape refused an offer from the state because it was 25% below market value, while the department is seemingly dragging its feet in finalising negotiations with Ferdie Klopper from Kroonstad.

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