Land Claims


There seems to be confusion surrounding the issue of the reopening of the period for the lodgement of new land claims and the restitution process in general.

Initially, land claims had to be lodged on or before 31 December 1998, by a person dispossessed of a right in land after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices. President Jacob Zuma has however recently signed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill. The Amendment Bill gives land claimants a further opportunity until 30 June 2019 to lodge new land claims.

A land claim will only be published in the Government Gazette, if the Land Claims Commission is satisfied, after receipt of the land claim that it complies with certain requirements in terms of the Restitution Act. The landowner usually only becomes aware of the land claim after the publishing thereof in the Government Gazette.

At this point the next phase commences with further investigation in conjunction with the landowner. During this phase the landowner must give the Commission one month’s written notice in respect of any intended further capital investments or improvements on the farm as well as of his intention to sell the land. The landowner may also make representations to the Commission in respect of the validity of the land claim or he may decide to sell to the Commission. If it becomes clear to the Commission that the land claim will not be settled and the land claim has been investigated properly, he will refer it to the Land Claims Court.

The next phase then commences with a process similar to a civil action in the High Court with a Judge of the Land Claims Court as the presiding officer. Should the claimants succeed in proving that they have a valid land claim the Court may make various different order. The Court can for example order the physical return of the claim claimed or of a part thereof to the claimants. The Court can also order the Commission to provide the claimants with alternative land, or order the Commission to pay financial compensation to the claimants. The Court has a wide discretion in that regard. The Court may therefore, even though the claimants succeeded in proving their claim, grant an alternative order such as the payment of financial compensation by the Commission to the claimants and not the physical return of the land.

The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill further deals with fraudulent claims; with the appointment of Judges and amends the Restitution Act to ensure the effective implementation thereof.

Contact person for this area of practice: 

PartnersArnoldt Cilliers

Professional Assistants:


Arnoldt Cilliers
Home Areas of Practice Land Claims