Fake WhatsApp message on land could have serious implications for South Africa

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee has condemned a number of fake messages which are currently being circulated on social media.

In a statement released on Wednesday (7 June), the comittee said that a new WhatsApp message brought to its committee’s attention states that ‘all non-South African citizens who own property in the country are warned that they will be affected by the process currently been undertaken by the committee’.

Co-chairperson of the committee, Lewis Nzimande, cautioned against creating the impression that South Africa is xenophobic.

“We are definitely not targeting foreigners in South Africa. This type of fake news can lead to all sorts of criminality,” he said.

“It can also lead to a downturn in foreign investment, which is critical for our development. At this point, we are just establishing whether Section 25 of the Constitution is in need of amendment.”

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee recently called for written public submissions on the review of section 25 of the Constitution (Property Clause) and other sections where necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.

This comes after the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces mandated the constitutional review committee to propose the necessary constitutional amendments, where applicable, with regards to the future land tenure regime needed.

The WhatsApp refers to the recent motion in Parliament, but states:

“The land that you now own will be taken away from you. You will then have to apply for a 25-year lease to stay on your land. This will obviously come with a price tag. If your application is disapproved, you will have to vacate your property or face legal action. I ask every citizen to take action, before it is too late.”

Regarding the information about leasing your own land from government, committee co-chairperson Vincent Smith said that this is completely untrue.

“No mechanism, criteria or conditionality has been established for land that is to be expropriated. That is all part of what we are currently looking into. We would like to discourage these types of messages that create confusion and fear in our people,” he said.

Read: New laws plan to give stronger rights to ‘land occupiers’

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Fake WhatsApp message on land could have serious implications for South Africa