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15 January 2019 | Story Charlene Stanley
COURT Case
From the left: Prof Danie Brand, Director of the Free State Centre for Human Rights, with his co-counsel Anna-Marie de Vos SC and their legal opponents Lawrie Wilkin and Uday Kiran Naidoo during the Grootkraal case in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

 

What rights do black farming families have on land they obtained during a period when restrictive legislation made it impossible for black people to own land?

This was the legal issue at stake in the matter of Grace Maledu v Itereleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources. In this case, 13 families of the Lesetlheng Village Community in the North-West Province bought a farm a hundred years ago. Apartheid-era legislation prohibited them from owning land, and the land was held in trust for them by the state.

Their descendants were recently threatened with eviction, after a multi-national mining company obtained mining rights on the land.    

Free State Centre for Human Rights Getting Involved

Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria instructed Professor Danie Brand, Director of the Free State Centre for Human Rights on the Bloemfontein Campus, to act as co-counsel for the community in the High Court and the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court has now ruled in favour of the Lesetlheng community, upholding their rights to continue farming.  The judgment effectively protects them against the mining company’s attempt to evict them. It also establishes the important principle that a holder of a mining right may not commence with mining on land, unless it has made a reasonable effort in good faith to reach an agreement with the actual people who use and occupy that land.

“This constitutes an important development in our law,” explains Prof Brand. “It establishes that nobody should have absolute control over land and that different rights to and interests in land can overlap without one trumping the other.”

Assisting Farm Workers

The centre also recently  assisted a community of farm workers in the Western Cape who were threatened with eviction from a portion of the Grootkraal Farm where they have conducted church, school, and other community activities for the past 200 years. Prof Brand acted as co-counsel in this case before the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, where judgment was delivered in their favour.

These two cases herald the re-establishment of a legal services division within the Free State Centre for Human Rights, giving effect to their community-engagement mandate.

 

What rights do black farming families have on land they obtained during a period when restrictive legislation made it impossible for black people to own land?

This was the legal issue at stake in the matter of Grace Maledu v Itereleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources. In this case, 13 families of the Lesetlheng Village Community in the North-West Province bought a farm a hundred years ago. Apartheid-era legislation prohibited them from owning land, and the land was held in trust for them by the state.

Their descendants were recently threatened with eviction, after a multi-national mining company obtained mining rights on the land. 
 

Free State Centre for Human Rights Getting Involved

Lawyers for Human Rights in Pretoria instructed Professor Danie Brand, Director of the Free State Centre for Human Rights on the Bloemfontein Campus, to act as co-counsel for the community in the High Court and the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court has now ruled in favour of the Lesetlheng community, upholding their rights to continue farming.  The judgment effectively protects them against the mining company’s attempt to evict them. It also establishes the important principle that a holder of a mining right may not commence with mining on land, unless it has made a reasonable effort in good faith to reach an agreement with the actual people who use and occupy that land.

“This constitutes an important development in our law,” explains Prof Brand. “It establishes that nobody should have absolute control over land and that different rights to and interests in land can overlap without one trumping the other.”

Assisting Farm Workers

The centre also recently  assisted a community of farm workers in the Western Cape who were threatened with eviction from a portion of the Grootkraal Farm where they have conducted church, school, and other community activities for the past 200 years. Prof Brand acted as co-counsel in this case before the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, where judgment was delivered in their favour.

These two cases herald the re-establishment of a legal services division within the Free State Centre for Human Rights, giving effect to their community-engagement mandate.

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