Today, the Constitutional Court recognised that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and Provincial Legislature violated sections 72(1)(a) and 118(1)(a) of the Constitution by failing to conduct adequate public participation processes in the passing of the Restitution Amendment Act.
The Constitutional Court found the amendment unconstitutional and invalid. This is a significant step in processing the original land claims which the Association For Rural Advancement (AFRA) believes were prejudiced in the Restitution Amendment Act of 2014.
The Amendment Act amended the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 22 of 1994, and was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma on 30 June 2014. It allowed people who had not lodged land claims by the original cut-off date in 1998 a new chance to lodge claims for restitution of land.
AFRA’s Programmes Manager Glenn Farred noted that although the legal victory is an important step in the right direction the overall issue still remains.
“The Department responsible for discharging this judgement is in urgent need of a coherent and comprehensive strategy that gives practical effect to the law. We hope that progress can now be made but we remain deeply concerned that the required action will be taken by the Department. AFRA, LAMOSA and other land rights NGOs and affected communities will continue to mobilise and monitor compliance with the judgement,” said Farred.
In 2015 the Land Access Movement of South Africa (LAMOSA), Nkuzi Development Association (Nkuzi), AFRA and three communal property associations representing the affected communities of Makuleke, Modderfontein and Popela brought a direct challenge to the Constitutional Court regarding the Amendment Act on the basis that Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures had failed to comply with their constitutional obligation to facilitate public involvement before passing the Amendment Act. AFRA is pleased with the judgement and hopes it will be a major stepping stone to processing the claims made under the original Restitution Act, and to ensure meaningful public engagement in the future.