A methodology for the capture and registration of land rights under the Communal Land Rights Act.
Weston, Alan C.
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One of the major policy objectives of the South African government is to reform land tenure and address the current inequitable dispossession of land. A key to the successful implementation of land reform in communal areas will be the recently enacted Communal Land Rights Act. This Act allows communities to be vested with juristic personality, and enables those communities to acquire and hold rights, incur obligations, and encumber the land by mortgage in the name of the community. Communities will now have a legal tenure recognized by and enforceable at law. The Act provides the mechanism for replacing old order rights with new order rights, which, in turn, may be upgraded to freehold title with community consent. While the Communal Land Rights Act is clear in its approach to providing legal security of tenure, the implementation and linking of the internal land rights within these new legal collective ownership structures to the existing formal system is still uncertain. With the flexibility allowed under the Act, this dissertation offers a simple, cost-effective alternative for the registration of land rights using the envisioned Land Clerk of the Department of Land Affairs. This option involves placing suitably equipped Land Clerks into the communities in which they serve, operating as autonomous self-sustaining contractors. Research for this project was conducted in the community of Ekuthuleni (KwaZuluNatal), where two members of the community were equipped with a portable rig and trained to perform as Land Clerks. The author and others from the University trained them in the use of a computer, scanner, printer, handheld GPS receiver, and assorted software. In addition, to allow them to function autonomously, a photovoltaic power system was set up at their residence. To assess their ability as Land Clerks, several field projects were undertaken within the community. Under the guidance of the author, these field tests involved contacting individual landowners, capturing personal and property information, and registering that data into a specially written database programme. Evidence of previous land ownership was noted and rebristered, GPS coordinates were collected and registered in the process of delineating the landowner's property, and a form reflecting all captured data was printed for the landowner's records.