Land Rights Restitution Amendment Act: ConCourt slams consultation process

The Act allowed people who missed the 1998 cut-off date another five years in which to lodge land claims.

Picture: Saps.

CAPE TOWN - The Constitutional Court says the public consultation process over a crucial piece of land reform legislation was so flawed as to be unconstitutional.

In a unanimous judgment handed down today, the Court declared the Land Rights Restitution Amendment Act to be invalid, with immediate effect.

Passed in 2014, the Act allowed people who missed the 1998 cut-off date another five years in which to lodge land claims.

But land rights and community organisations went to court over the lack of consultation and because they believed the backlog of outstanding claims should first be dealt with.

Constance Mogale of the Land Access Movement of South Africa says it's a landmark victory for landless communities.

"We are very, very excited with the ruling. It is a milestone ruling and a lesson to the government not to undermine the people's wishes."

In terms of the judgment, claims lodged under the now invalid Act will remain intact. But land claims submitted before the old 1998 cut-off date must be processed first.

Parliament has 24 months to re-enact the legislation, which the Constitutional Court says was rushed through - giving communities and provincial legislatures insufficient time to consider such an important law.