Legislation needed for land restitution even if Constitution is amended - expert

Constitutional law expert Wilmien Wicomb says the state needs to focus on ensuring there's a solid legal mechanism in place to conduct expropriation - an issue that's been before Parliament since at least 2008.

Rural women from the Western Cape marched to Parliament on 15 October 2020, demanding productive land, land expropriation and a basic income grant. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News

A constitutional law expert said on Wednesday proper legislation was needed to guide the state on how to effectively carry out land expropriation to the state.

The National Assembly on Tuesday failed to pass the amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution that will allow for expropriation without compensation.

Read more:

- National Assembly fails to pass land expropriation bill amendment
- SA could end up like Zim, warns Parly, if land saga isn’t resolved
- It represents a ‘sell-out’ arrangement: opposition parties on failed land Bill
- Opposition parties reject land expropriation without compensation Bill

Attorney in the Constitutional Litigation Unit at the Legal Resource Centre, Wilmien Wicomb, said current legislation on the matter dated back to 1974 and new laws were needed.

"We need new legislation that helps the state to expropriate properly. That's a mechanism that they would need even if they were able to amend the Constitution and that's been in Parliament since at least 2008 and never passed. So that's hopefully where the focus will be and it will happen next year," she said.

Wicomb added that there was a warped perception on what land expropriation entailed. She said ideas that the if the amendment went through the state would be able to simply take land was not accurate.

"I really object to people calling this land grabs or anything like that. Expropriation is a highly regulated process with court oversight. So the idea that expropriation itself is a disaster because the state will just be able to seize land is just not what expropriation is," she added.