Residents build shacks on a piece of land in Ezibeleni. Picture: SIMTEMBILE MGIDI
Residents build shacks on a piece of land in Ezibeleni. Picture: SIMTEMBILE MGIDI

The Alexandra Property Owners’ Rights group (Apor) says proposed amendments to the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation should stipulate that the state cannot take land from black people.

This is part the submission made by the organisation to the Constitutional Review Committee looking at expropriation of land without compensation, as mandated by Parliament.

Its chairperson‚ Vakele Mbalukwana, said on Tuesday that Alexandra communities had had their properties taken away from them by the apartheid government and did not want to see that happen in a democratic era.

"The law can be passed to expropriate land without compensation. You may find that things may start well but after some time‚ the state may end up not choosing whose property is being expropriated. The state can start expropriating land from people whose land was taken by the apartheid government. In the new legislation‚ there must be a clause stipulating clearly that land belonging to black people cannot be expropriated‚" said Mbalukwana.

Public submissions to the Constitutional Review Committee closed on June 15. This followed a motion for land expropriation without compensation in the National Assembly‚ which was passed by a majority vote on February 27.

The matter was referred to the Constitutional Review Committee‚ which must report back to Parliament by September 28.

The EFF had proposed that an ad hoc committee be established to review and amend section 25 of the Constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest‚ without compensation. Section 25 of the Constitution — known as the property clause — states the government must make laws and take other steps to help people or communities to get land to live on‚ and to claim back land if they lost it after 1913 and because of an apartheid law.

Last week‚ Gauteng premier David Makhura announced that the provincial government was completing an audit of all unused privately owned land to test the Constitution instead of waiting for the parliamentary process currently reviewing the property rights clause of the Constitution, to be complete.

Makhura said expropriated land would then be given to residents who wanted to use it for building houses‚ food production and industrialisation. The move by provincial government is expected to help it deal with‚ among others‚ its serious social housing backlog.

But Mbalukwana says even when land is unutilised‚ the state should not take land belonging to black people.

"There may be a reason why the land looks idle. The black person may be trying to get funding from government‚ or sort out things [to] get the land developed‚ so the state cannot expropriate the land just because it classifies the land as idle‚" he said.