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What you need to know about South Africa’s new land bill

What you need to know about South Africa’s new land bill

One of South Africa’s top 5 law firms, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, has issued an alert and guide to the incoming land bill following concerns that it had not received enough publicity and that the public had not sufficiently commented on the new laws.

“The bill, if enacted in its present form, will have far reaching consequences on the agricultural sector, affecting all owners of agricultural land and in particular, foreign nationals and owners of agricultural land holdings determined to be in excess of ‘ceilings’ for land ownership, which excess will be available for redistribution, with or without expropriation,” said CDH’s William Midgley.

He provided the following breakdown of the proposed new laws.

The Commission

Law legal judgement

The Bill makes provision for the establishment of a Land Commission (Commission) appointed by the Minister responsible for Rural Development and Land Reform (Minister).

The Commission is to establish a register of public and private agricultural land ownership. Every owner of a private agricultural land holding must lodge a notification of ownership with the Commission in the prescribed form within 12 months of the commencement of the Act, if enacted in its present form (Commencement).


Every person who acquires ownership of a private agricultural land holding after the Commencement must lodge a notification with the Commission within 90 days of the acquisition. A Registrar of Deeds (Registrar) may not register the transfer unless the notification has been lodged with the Commission.

The notification is to include the race, gender and nationality of the owner, and the size and use of the agricultural holding. If a person is a foreign person (see below) or becomes one or ceases to be one, that person must also file a notification within 90 days of such change of status.

What is Agricultural land?

Highland Gate


‘Agricultural land’ means all land other than land which forms part of a proclaimed township or land in respect of which an application for the establishment of a township has been submitted prior to the Commencement, land which is excluded by the Minister by notice in the Gazette or which has been determined to be non-agricultural land in accordance with the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013.


A ‘foreign person’ will not be entitled to acquire ownership of agricultural land from the Commencement.

A ‘foreign person’ is defined as a natural person who is not a citizen or not ordinarily resident in South Africa, a foreign juristic person (excluding a foreign juristic person controlled by a black person as defined in the Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Black Person)), or a juristic person in which a foreign person or foreign juristic person holds a controlling interest, which includes a trust.

After the Commencement, foreign persons may only conclude long leases of agricultural land (30 to 50 years) and such long leases must be registered in a Deeds Registry within 90 days of conclusion.

A foreign person wishing to dispose of an agricultural land holding must offer it to the Minister who will have a right of first refusal to acquire ownership of such land.


The Minister must, after consultation with the Commission and the Minister responsible for agriculture, “determine the categories of ceilings for agricultural land holdings in each district”.

In making such determination, the Minister is to have regard for various issues such as “land capability factors” (which include cropping factors, current output, soils, viability, water availability and infrastructure), capital requirements, annual turnover, income levels, price margins and other prescribed matters.

Certain public statements indicate that an ownership cap of 12,000 hectares may be imposed on foreign persons.

Owners of agricultural land must notify the Commission “of the identity of the portion of such agricultural land holdings which constitutes redistribution agricultural land in terms of the provisions of the Act” (Redistribution Agricultural Land).

The Bill makes provision for an arbitration process to be followed in the event a dispute between the owner and the Commission, regarding such excess land.

Who gets the land?

A Black Person must be offered the Redistribution Agricultural Land within a prescribed period, whereafter the Minister will have a right of first refusal to acquire such land for a further period. If the owner and the Minister are not able to reach agreement as to the price for the Redistribution Agricultural Land, the Minister may expropriate the land in question, subject to the expropriation laws at the time.

Institutional funds which are owners of Redistribution Agricultural Land may apply for exemption from these expropriation provisions.

Who to speak to

If you are of the view that the objectives of the Bill may impact you and you require our assistance in providing commentary on the Bill, please contact Directors, William Midgley or Attie Pretorius timeously before 13 April 2017 to discuss same. Please note that comments received after 13 April 2017 will not be considered.

Read: Special unit created as Pretoria land grabs spiral out of control: report

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  • Nero55

    Hopefully they will educate and train people on how to use the land…. Otherwise food prices will jump and people will be worse off.

    • Kajan Lakhan

      Look at the pollution around the world. We need to educate and train people all over.

      • Demisemi

        Yes, but if the locals dont even have a BASIC understanding of the complexities of modern farming, then there is a fundamental problem [ as seen in Zim etc ]

        Please, dont even begin to compare these ‘soon to be’ locals to California/Australian/European [ or our former Huguenot etc ] farmers !

        • Kajan Lakhan

          The problem in Zim, was Margaret Thacker sending people to overthrow the Democratic country of Zimbabwe. Too greedy for Diamonds and Uranium / Platinum.

          This in turn lead to an unfortunate incident, which seems to be taking shape in SA. The Locals have a good understanding of Britain… how could they not know farming?

          Why are South Africans not working together…peacefully. Next term, a new president would have been elected, with the Rand been strong, but no, someone wants to protest. Hence, the Government protest back.

          One doesn’t blame them, if you read how certain media houses co-ordinated an attack on SA.

          • Brian

            Ha ha ha… you should be a comedian.

          • Kajan Lakhan

            Thanks Brian. But I can’t type at the moment….the Dutch want to hold my hand.

    • Brian

      How about the cost of financing a farm? Where is the money coming from for all those tractors and irrigation? If the money is not there then it will be subsistence farming which will produce nothing for our exploding population

  • SemiautomatixZA

    How do we determine race again? Do we reintroduce the pencil test?

    • Kajan Lakhan

      South Africa media knows about race…
      They use a race poll all the time, like in the Zuma must go protest news.
      Is this media promoting racial prejudice in South Africa?
      I agree with you

      • Demisemi

        Say what ??


        • Brian

          A few too many of those Heinekens I think…

      • Christine Cameron-Dow

        What Christian president?

        • Jim Landon

          It is certain that Kajan cannot be referring to President Zupta. He’s about as Christian as a hiëna or jakkals

    • Tony Foley

      Let’s do a ‘Rachel Dolezal’ and self-identify as any race we feel like on the day.

    • Bart

      The pencil test is “another test”. race is determined by pulling a strand of hair through the eye of a needle during full moon.

  • Masondo Ngubo

    “Owners of agricultural land must notify the Commission “of the identity of the portion of such agricultural land holdings which constitutes redistribution agricultural land in terms of the provisions of the Act” (Redistribution Agricultural Land).” . . . . I understood that currently there is a moratorium on the sub-dividing of agricultural land into portions less than 8ha? Is this to be lifted to accommodate the Redistribution Agricultural Land? What of 2ha smallholdings outside municipal boundaries? These are ‘agricultural’ by the definition given in the article but actual residences in practice? I see violence in our future

    • brz

      Good questions.

  • James Dean

    All these attempts come from coffin dodger cadres that have a serious axe to grind. The good news is their time on this planet is almost over and these attempts of theirs will be completely out of their control.

  • Corrie Bresler

    So, foreign Black persons are not to be regarded as foreigners. If I read the passage thst deals with it correctly.

    • Kajan Lakhan

      Oh Corrie, in America, Mexicans are still seen as Foreigners. Even Indians who are Americans and refered to as Americans of Indian decent when the media reports something.

      So, if we all copy what other influential countries are doing, then South Africa must be doing the right thing.

      • Demisemi

        So, we cannot think for ourselves ?

        Iow the maxim “if all the lemmings are running off the cliff, then so should we……” applies ??

      • Jim Landon

        Oh Kajan, you are speaking thru one of your nether orifices.
        – In the United States of America, individuals with Mexican citizenship are, in fact, ‘Foreigners’. The same as Zimbabweans are ‘Foreigners’ in the Republic of South Africa. At least in the USA, we do not ‘necklace’ Mexicans with burning tyres – that seems to be something that South African Blacks prefer when going on their periodic rampages.
        – Also in the USA, Indians are NOT referred to as ‘Americans of Indian descent (please note the correct spelling of this word). Indians are referred to as Native Americans.

        Having set the record straight, I would like to wish “Blessings on Your Woolly Head”. Geskryf met die nodige respek deur ‘n Boer van Amerika Uit.

      • Jim Landon

        Oh Kajan, you are speaking thru one of your nether orifices.

        – In the United States of America, individuals with Mexican
        citizenship are, in fact, ‘Foreigners’. The same as Zimbabweans are
        ‘Foreigners’ in the Republic of South Africa. At least in the USA, we do
        not ‘necklace’ Mexicans with burning tyres – that seems to be something
        that South African Blacks prefer when going on their periodic xenophobic rampages.

        – Also in the USA, Indians are NOT referred to as ‘Americans
        of Indian descent (please note the correct spelling of this word).
        Indians are referred to as Native Americans.

        Having set the record
        straight, I would like to wish “Blessings on Your Woolly Head”.
        Geskryf met ‘n totale gebrek aan respek deur ‘n Boer van Amerika.

        • Kajan Lakhan

          Jimmy boy, I’m glad I have upset you for you too use such language on me. There’s must be some truth to my words.

          • Prometheus_Revisited

            He has just pointed out your ignorance quite succinctly. How do you manage to interpret that as some sort of victory?

          • Kajan Lakhan

            I’m that eagle that ate the liver of Prometheus every day.

            “TITAN! to whose immortal eyes
            The sufferings of mortality,
            Seen in their sad reality,
            Were not as things that gods despise;
            What was thy pity’s recompense?
            A silent suffering, and intense;
            The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
            All that the proud can feel of pain,
            The agony they do not show,
            The suffocating sense of woe,
            Which speaks but in its loneliness,
            And then is jealous lest the sky
            Should have a listener, nor will sigh
            Until its voice is echoless.”

            Prometheus (1816)

          • Prometheus_Revisited

            Congratulations on your copy and paste abilities – you have exceeded yourself.

          • Kajan Lakhan

            I learn from the best.. “Prometheus”

          • Christine Cameron-Dow

            Where did they fight the Dutch? Are you thinking of the invasion at Waterloo?

          • Kajan Lakhan

            Hitler thought very highly of the Dutch people, who were considered members of the Aryan master race. ( This may explain why they recently released a Hilter colouring book to small little incident children in Netherlands…and why they use race all the time in their Vocabulary.)

            Luftwaffe was especially interested as Netherlands was designated to become the main area for airport bases to attack the United Kingdom.

            Henneick Column, tracked down innocent Jewish people and its too sad to continue..

            The point is, Jacob ( aka Israel ) should be spared.( as non off his ancestors harm any Jew.)

          • Christine Cameron-Dow

            Oh, I see. So you’re referring to the incident where the black General Blucher engaged the Dutch at Flushing Meadows, whereupon the Buffalo Soldiers under his command drove the Prince of Orange and his troops to Trafalgar, where they took ship to Jamaica?

          • Prometheus_Revisited

            I wouldn’t try to engage in any serious discussion with this ignoramus. Let him wallow in his ignorance.

          • Christine Cameron-Dow

            Who’s being serious?

          • Kajan Lakhan

            I’m ignoramus, sorry Christine ( and thank you Potthamiss for an excuse. )

            The Wilders effect and the Dutch identity crisis are the only present history I know about.

            Wilders wanted to remove Foreigners from “his” land.

            The Dutch identity crisis effects many in the Netherlands, as they don’t know whether they Jamaican, or Indonesian or British or even Indian. Many of them are Turkish nowadays. Wilders may have caused the Hilter colouring book to be sold to “Dutch” children. Many also see this in the Dutch today.

  • Cheesy 3.0

    In the era of urbanization, these people still have this irrational obsession with land.

    • MP3

      i could not have put it better myself

    • Ernest Langa

      In the era that suites people who were in the past got advantaged to get land. It is irrational when your race own bigger portion of the land. Irrational when the real indigenous people ask for share of that land. Your biased view is also irrational.

      • Piet Vorster

        Depends, did that race group buy their land legally, doesn’t matter who owns how much land.

        • chunk

          Legality depends on who makes the law.

          • Piet Vorster

            The constitution as it stands makes every owner of land with a title to that land the legal owners.

          • chunk

            today yes, tomorrow who know’s. If anything South Africans should never feel comfortable, laws can be changed to suite who ever is in charge, we have seen this before.

          • Piet Vorster

            Well, everyone in the world faces that possibility.
            whether or not our government makes that decision and make expropriation without compensation “legal” the international community will still know that it isn’t.

      • Cheesy 3.0

        What are you going to do with you 100Ha when you eventually get your handout from the government?

      • Christine Cameron-Dow

        “Land” has become a catchword. In an era of have-nots living in informal settlements, the first priority should be acceptable living standards which conform to community health and safety requirements, coupled with high educational standards, affordable living and employment. “Land” is just another carrot being dangled to entice voters. What use is “land” if the owners can’t afford to maintain and/or develop it? Maybe you foresee them getting access to bank loans; without sufficient income to service their loans, how do you expect them to survive? South Africa is already littered with failed farmers. If the so-called rich white farmers are struggling, how the hell do you think the poor will cope? Incidentally, do your homework, and find out how much land is owned by traditional leaders and government.

        • This.

          >be white guy which should automatically mean I’m ‘privileged’ AF
          >go to bank to inquire about potential to get loan to rent land and acquire feed and other materials to set up a livestock operation
          >overall plan looks good, but despite me being white, despite the banker I’m discussing it with being white, despite all muh priv’lege, my request for a loan won’t be humoured unless I can offer (a) sufficient collateral and/or (b) proof of stable and sufficient enough income to support the endeavour until such a time as it starts returning on the bank’s investment

          So much for me getting what I want because I’m white, all that white monopoly money capital I supposedly own and the economy favouring me in some or other way I’ve yet to discover.

          Meanwhile I own no land and can’t even afford to rent any out in the countryside.

      • Rasta Dono

        Your problem here its not for the whites to return land its the government job to sieze the land from you government is just as wicked as the WHITEs in 23 yrs all land should have been returned

    • Demisemi

      Cheesy, our leaders are still stuck in the 20’s.


      Its not even funny anymore.

  • Kajan Lakhan

    Excellent reform. I see the Christian President of South Africa, Jacob, is holding strong against terroror tactics of creating civil unrest. HE IS STEPPING UP. ( as all the people who didn’t protest, supported him to do so).

    • Jim Landon

      Ag sis, Kajan, there you go again insinuating that President Showerhead is a Christian. Shame on you !
      Geskryf met ‘n totale gebrek aan respek deur ‘n Boer van Amerika.

    • Brian

      Once again….. hilarious!!! You should be on stage.

  • Kajan Lakhan

    1488 Bartolomeu Dias came to the Cape.
    Jacob, needs to enact the African Constitution which was passed on verbally from Chief to Chief. Will Cape Town wine lands be returned to the koi sand? Will roos boos tea and other developments be paying royalties to the ANC? ( Patients off a captured land surely can’t be deemed as legitimate. Does the Hague agree, on the exploits of this war crime.)

    • Brian

      You crack me up!! Hilarious!!

    • Piet Vorster

      There were no wine lands in the Cape before the Dutch planted grapes.

      • Kajan Lakhan

        Did the Dutch use the seeds from the British or the French?

        I would have ordered the Locals to plant the seeds, if I was around those days…it would have made more sense don’t you think.

        The British came back and civilised the Cape, they took the Cape from the Dutch, as it was important for them to travel to India.( Btw they paid much money for it, and the Dutch could not argue because they would not in a good financial position.. After drinking away their products)

        The British people had put taps in the Cape.

        • Piet Vorster

          Irrelevant where the seeds originated, the Dutch started viniculture in the Cape.

          • Kajan Lakhan

            I agree with you Piet.

            But, my whole point off commenting here was to show SA how the Dutch and it’s supporters oppose me for voicing my opinions.

            This is the same mindset that South Africans want to choose? ( The same movement that America is supporting via their over reactions to downgrading the Rand, while their own President was elected because off a computer glitched election? In my book the US Dollar is junk – that is why their investers are buying South African Gold – as currency fluctuates, while commodities such as gold only grow in value. )

            I am a simple person – a jozi soap -, so does that mean I have no rights under a Dutch ruling party? ( Several people have shown tendencies to ridicule me, and I got ridiculed on behalf off other South Africans with open hands, so that they may not.)

        • ‘they paid much money for it’
          Say what now?

          • Kajan Lakhan

            At the Treaty of Vienna in 1814 the British acquired the Cape permanently. The British then paid the Dutch for six million pounds. Cape Town then remained in the hands of the British and the Cape became a crown colony. A civilian governor based in Cape Town was appointed. The Dutch name of the city Riebeeckstad (Riebeeck’s Town) was eliminated as the British continued to use the name Cape Town.

            I’m surprised that they never give the Xhosa allies a cut.

            What is 6million pounds worth today? Many DAtch seem to be content with the British name given to Riebeeckstad.

          • I’m still not finding any info on the Brits ‘buying’ the Cape. I only know of them taking it by force several times. No information I’m finding on the 1814-1815 congress of Vienna nor 1815 treaties makes any reference to anything to do with South Africa.

            What should I be looking for in particular? Because this is the first I’m ever hearing of the British ‘buying out’ any part of South Africa from the Dutch.

          • Kajan Lakhan

            They wouldn’t want you to find this hot money, of 6million pounds that truly belongs to the Xhosa peoples of South Africa etc.

            In today’s value, taking inflation into account, that comes to £497million ( 614million USD) or R8504million). If this money was in my bank account, I would be winning elections or my city would be better off in service and infrastructure then other metros)

            This money can pay for all the youth in South Africa for their educational and knowledge needs. ( Buy the way, was this not corruption. Does corruption harbour corruption? Why is this kept hush hush? Seems like the evidence is forgotten.)

            One of the sources:
            The Voortrekkers: A history of the Voortrekkers Great Trek 1835–1845, Voortrekkers leave Natal

            Note: You have to search for “Congress of Vienna, Britain buys Capetown” because at that time, Capetown was not part off South Africa. The Government needs to track down to who this money was paid too. It sponsored the 1820 settlers. Today as, Dutch/Dutch supporters , we call the same people ignoramus etc. without knowing who paid for our ancestors to escape poverty strickened Lowerlands ( Neitherlands)

  • Joe Black

    Any major increase in subsistence farming will see a massive population explosion like in India over the long run. So I really hope they have their plans straight to do both this and actually grow the economy. I really do. Because one without the other will be a disaster.

    And it remains to be seen if there’s going to be violent land grabs or not. I do not think this arrangement excludes the possibility. The ANC is not known for managing things particularly well. Well I suppose the manage to hold unto power, but that seems to be it.

    • Demisemi

      Joe, stop being willfully ignorant.

      You know what the outcome is here.

  • Jacobus Pienaars

    “The notification is to include the race, gender and nationality of the owner” – Well, SA does NOT have ANY race laws. We don’t have a law designating different races, either the existence of race or how it is defined in order to classify the buyer or seller.
    Thus a buyer can legally pick his own race.
    The equality of gender and tran gender status probably means the buyer can pick his own gender as well.

    • Khulumani

      We do now…

  • Jacobus Pienaars

    “a foreign juristic person (excluding a foreign juristic person
    controlled by a black person as defined in the Employment Equity Act,
    1998 (Black Person)),” – Does that mean the Canadian business dude Conrad Black is OK to buy?

  • Kolbe

    It is heartbreaking to see that many of the land that was allocated to upcoming farmers are not used to grow any crop, or no animals are kept. Groups that received top productive farms, are fighting among each other, even killing each other, leaving these farms that where the best in the district , barren, on some farms there are no owners or workers, now it is a hiding place for thieves and thugs. On my neighbor’s farm there are 1 worker he can’t remember when last his employer came to the farm, this man doesn’t answer his phone when I call him. of the 50 sheep that was on the farm 6 are left, all the others died…. no extra feed, no dosing etc. 40 cattle… 15 left. This worker receive his food from me….

    Implements, tractors, water tanks, irrigation systems, complete cattle crushes are overgrown with grass and not used. Everything was delivered for free. 4 of my neighbors’ (like so many more) cattle crushes where dropped of at the entrance gate to their farms, 3 years ago……. it is still lying there. Equipment to make drinking troughs for animals, are still lying where it was delivered 5 years ago. Water tanks delivered for upcoming farmers, 5 to 10 km from their farms, are blown away and tossed around by the wind. It is a pity that there is no system that control these “hand-outs” to see if it is in use so that it can be allocated elsewhere for someone that really can make use of it. And all of these are paid by whom again…… (The people that pay taxes of course!)
    The land we own are paid in full with blood and sweat (and many,many sleepless nights.) to get the money to pay each payment to Landbank. My great-great grand father, great-grand father, grand father and father , myself ,my sons and our wives worked from the crack of dawn till late in the night to get what we have. Nobody GAVE us anything. Sad to see that we now are expected to GIVE away our land that we have worked for, and I am sorry to say, but we didn’t get our farms for free. When my Grandson wanted to apply for a loan at Landbank he couldn’t get one because he was not a previously disadvantaged person.

    I agree that we must help other people, but not at the cost of others. All the schools etc that are burnt and destroyed, why??? Now less things will happen because there are 10 new schools that needs to be built AND the school fees etc (or whatever) I complained about in the first place and burnt the school for because I didn’t get what I wanted ALSO needs to get attention.

    • Comrate

      all of this is because usually the farms and equipment are given to the connected who have no interest in farming whatsoever, just so they can say ” I have a farm”….

  • Laws to colonize white owned land. Land that never belonged to anyone else. 🙁

    And to accentuate black racism, whites are not even allowed to buy farm land in their own country anymore.

    Remind me again. Why did we abolish apartheid?

    • Khulumani

      Land that never belonged to anyone else my foot!!! Apartheid was not abolished; only the white leaders were changed. White capital remains intact. The loot from the government coffers just before the so-called independence in 1994 continues to prop up the whites.

      Africa is the only continent where the minority owns the largest land. I just love this new breeze of change…..

      • Problem with money stolen by people in power is bringing them to justice. As you have seen with Zuma this is virtually impossible. And money stolen by government is money lost for everyone. 🙁

        It is the land issue that is problematic. After all it is land that had no previous owner before the white man. Including land that were legally bought from the Zulu’s and some other coastal tribes.

        The ‘only’ black people that deserves their portion of land is the farm workers whose parents and forefathers put their sweat into the ground as the white farmers did.

        If you are not the son of one of those farm workers not even the dust the wind blows of those farms belong to you.

        And if you keep supporting Zuma’s thieving then you are equally responsible for the repercussions that will result from his crimes.

        Zumbabwe, the next land of fools and beggars….

  • Luna Moon

    racial discrimination is gone…long live racial discrimination !!

  • Disme

    If you cannot be productive you cannot have the land…we will all soon be starving if this bill goes through… or importing our food from Brazil…

    There are fewer and fewer farmers…. farm consolidation is happening…so many productive farmers will be above the ceiling ! This is absolute nonsense!

  • chacma

    If I were a vegetable farmer I would sell all my land and rent a warehouse in the city on a long term rental and start Aerofarms (i think that is what the franchise is called) Saw it on utube. All u need is a warehouse, wholesaler dexion racking and lightweight plastic trays. Their hydroponic farming system with solar and wind powered low power led lighting. The advantages are many. It is easier to secure a warehouse than a farm.
    With their lighting system you get 2 days in every 24 hrs which speeds up the crop growing time.
    The water is re used as is the planting material. You can grow over 250 varieties of vegetables.
    What these guys maintain is you do not need to transport your crop over a great distance to your client. Imagine an old warehouse in Woodstock supplying veg to city stores.
    These guys are moving into an old Steel mill in Delaware , inside their vertical farm some of the racks will soar up to 60 ft above the ground and with racks 4 ft apart that is 15 racks of veg growing in the space of one growing area on a normal farm.
    This type of farming saves over 70% of water.

  • Khulumani

    Now they are talking! Touching white capital is akin to touching a raw nerve. A tithe of the population owns almost 100% of the land – reversal of such is going to be excruciating. Amandhla!!!

  • Seriously?

    Planting grapes from seeds?! LOL!!

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