Advocate Wim Trengove’s proposals to the ad hoc parliamentary committee charged with crafting a constitutional amendment to allow expropriation without compensation (EWC) are damaging, naive and often mistaken on the law. (State must focus on redistribution in the land-expropriation issue, lawyers say, March 8.) Trengove is reported as proposing new legislation stipulating that “white” land ownership should be presumed the result of historical “privilege” – and thus liable to redistribution – unless the owner can prove otherwise. He suggests this rule be confined to farmland, leaving residential property, pensions, and other property rights untouched. But most farmers have bought their land, many since 1994 (roughly 5% of farms change hands annually). Most farmers also plough major amounts of working capital into their land each year. It is absurd to “presume” all white farmers have acquired their land through “privilege”. It is also naive to think this presumption would be confined...

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