Ronald Lamola. Picture: SOWETAN
Ronald Lamola. Picture: SOWETAN

The establishment of a Land Court as a permanent feature of SA’s judicial system is the only way to address the myriad problems faced by the Land Claims Court, justice & correctional services minister Ronald Lamola said on Thursday.

The Land Claims Court, established in 1996 to deal with land restitution and land claims cases, has a huge backlog of unresolved cases, which could take several years to resolve because of their complexity. 

In a written reply to a parliamentary question by ANC MP Xola Nqola, Lamola cited the lack of permanent judges in the Land Claims Court as contributing to a dearth of land jurisprudence.

The minister said a Land Court Bill is being drafted, which would culminate in the establishment of the envisaged Land Court.

“The Land Court will have a wider jurisdiction in respect of both the matters of land restitution and land reform. The envisaged legislation will provide opportunity to capacitate the court fully, both in terms of its personnel and its infrastructure.”

Lamola said that as an interim measure President Cyril Ramaphosa has created three additional judges’ posts for the sole use of the Land Claims Court. These additional posts had been created in the Gauteng division (two posts) and the KwaZulu-Natal division (one post). 

In reply to another question by ANC MP Jacqueline Mofokeng about the introduction of at least one indigenous African language as a compulsory subject in the LLB curriculum, Lamola said he would engage with the department of higher education & training, the Council of Higher Education and other institutions such as the Pan SA Language Board about this. Lamola’s predecessor, Michael Masutha, initiated these discussions.

“It is also important that the reform of the LLB curriculum is not only limited to issues of language but must address the broader transformation of our legal system from its colonial heritage,” Lamola said.

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