As it stands, section 25 of the constitution gives plenty of scope for government to expropriate property. There is already no requirement to follow a willing buyer, willing seller method. A recent court case — in which Mohammed Haffejee, a property owner, clashed with the eThekwini municipality — looked at whether expropriation is valid before a price has been decided. The judgment, written by judge Johan Froneman, says that if the government decides what to pay only after an expropriation has been made, it "burdens the property owner and triggers repellent memories of pre-constitutional arbitrary dispossessions". But, at the same time, it would also burden the government if one had to fix the price before the property was expropriated. After analysing section 25, the judge decided that the state’s interest should outweigh the property owner’s. So the ruling says that the government doesn’t have to agree on the sum or the time and manner of payment before expropriation takes place....

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