Process of proving land ownership ‘burdensome’ for some

Minister Gugile Nkwinti has expressed disappointment at the slow pace of redistribution.

FILE. A farmer inspects his land in the Free State. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti says the process of proving land ownership is burdensome for those filing claims.

Nkwinti was speaking at an African National Congress (ANC) round table discussion on land reform where he has expressed disappointment at the slow pace of redistribution.

The ruling party has vowed to forge ahead with plans for radical economic transformation and says land reform is at the top of its agenda.

Nkwinti says the burden of having to prove land ownership is one of the biggest challenges facing government and those lodging claims.

"The burden of proof on the people who are lodging claims is enormous, proving that 'indeed, I was here'."

He says a resolution has been adopted to amend the current law and its requirement for proof of ownership.

"We have to look at the law itself. Does the law reflect the history of laws and not just the acquisition by people?"

Government says current laws should be followed effectively to see the process of redistribution move faster.

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The minister says there are commercial farmers who are willing to cooperate with government in the land redistribution process.

Earlier this year, Parliament approved an Expropriation Bill which allows government to acquire land if it's in the public interest.

The bill has been criticised by some, including South African banks who believe that it will deter investors.

Nkwinti says that while many commercial farmers first resisted land reform measures, slowly more people are cooperating.

He says government wants to see land put to productive use once its ownership is transferred.

Nkwinti says farmers are now approaching government themselves, asking to be included in reform programmes.