Local newspaper City Press reports two game farms in the northern province of Limpopo are the first to be targeted for unilateral seizure after negotiations with the owners to purchase the properties stalled.
While the government says it intends to pay, owners Akkerland Boerdery wanted 200 million rand ($18.7 million) for the land — they’re being offered just 20 million rand ($1.87 million).
“Notice is hereby given that a terrain inspection will be held on the farms on April 5, 2018 at 10am in order to conduct an audit of the assets and a handover of the farm’s keys to the state,” a letter sent to the owners earlier this year said.
Akkerland Boerdery obtained an urgent injunction to prevent eviction until a court had ruled on the issue, but the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs is opposing the application.
“What makes the Akkerland case unique is that they apparently were not given the opportunity to first dispute the claim in court, as the law requires,” AgriSA union spokeswoman Annelize Crosby told the paper.
These farms are on the goverment's #farmlist that @afriforum exposed. And yet government still denies that the list exists… but it is now clear that government is lying to the public. https://t.co/U40G0U1GIv
— Kallie Kriel (@kalliekriel) August 19, 2018
It comes as the South African government pushes ahead with plans to amend the country’s constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The seizures are intended to test the ability of the government to take land under existing laws, which the ruling African National Congress has previously stated is allowable if “in the public interest”.
Earlier this month, City Press reported the government had drawn up a list of 139 farms it planned to seize “to test out” section 25 of the constitution.
The newspaper said employees at the department had been ordered to press ahead with the process at the Land Claims Court.
If the seizures go ahead, it would be the first time the state refuses to pay market value for land. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing seller, willing buyer” process to redistribute white-owned farms to blacks.