Land restitution 'could be doubled'

Johannesburg - The government's land restitution programme could have bought twice as much land if beneficiaries were not given money, a survey has found.

"Despite the provincial difference in land costs, the bottom line is that money provided for financial compensation could have bought a great deal more land for black land reform beneficiaries had they not received money instead," SA Institute of Race Relations researcher Kerwin Lebone said on Wednesday.

The institute's SA Survey, published this week, found that the government had spent R12.1bn to transfer just over 2.6 million hectares of land as part of its restitution programme between 1994 and 2009.

Almost R5.7bn had been given to beneficiaries who received money instead of land. Based on the average cost per hectare, the money could have been used to buy an additional 2.6 million hectares.

The survey was based on the national average cost per hectare, which concealed provincial distortions.

Land costs for the restitution programme were about R12 400 per hectare in Gauteng and only slightly less than R200 in the Free State.

In the Free State, the amount given in financial compensation could have bought 12 times the hectares received by land restitution beneficiaries, the survey found.

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