No truth to AfriForum list of farms named for expropriation - govt

2018-08-13 12:01
AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel in conversation with News24's Mahlatse Mahlase.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel in conversation with News24's Mahlatse Mahlase. (Screen grab, news24 video)

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The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on Monday denied the veracity of a list published by AfriForum of farms which it claimed would be expropriated without compensation.

On Friday, the organisation posted on its website that it had "obtained a list of farms identified for this purpose", which is ostensibly being circulated within the department.

It encouraged farmers to check if their farm was on the list and to contact them so that AfriForum "can prepare for a joint legal strategy".

Department spokesperson Linda Page, however, denied the authenticity of this list.

"We don't know where they got it from," she told News24. "There is no truth to this document."

READ: Agri SA to keep eye on ANC's plans around expropriation of 139 farms

Earlier this month, City Press reported that the ANC had identified 139 farms to be expropriated without compensation in the coming weeks, in an attempt to test Section 25 of the Constitution.

The list shared by AfriForum contains the names of 195 farms.

AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets insisted that the document was "definitely being circulated", although he would not provide further details on how it had reached them, other than that it emanated from a "confidential source".

He said it was easy for the department to deny the veracity of the document headed "expropriation test cases", and challenged it to publish the real list if they were denying the legitimacy of the one in their possession.

'They themselves don't know if it's valid or not'

He conceded that it may be a discussion document; that not all properties were being targeted, and other properties may also be included.

"The problem is this strategy of secrecy," he said. "The department has to prove they are acting in good faith."

Roets maintained that the affected farm owners were being kept in the dark in a bid to try and avoid joint legal action, on which the group was currently working.

READ: Land and the economy take centre stage at Cabinet lekgotla

Agri SA president Dan Kriek said AfriForum's publishing of this list was "grossly irresponsible" as it had itself acknowledged that its legitimacy was in doubt.

"They themselves don't know if it's valid or not," he said.

Following the ANC's announcement, there were "great levels of uncertainty on the ground", and that clarity was needed.

"This uncertainty is not food for investment or the economy and won't give us the economic growth we desperately need."

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Agri SA on its Facebook page said the current list was unconfirmed and "will be treated as such".

It warned it would fight "farmlist expropriation in court".

"Remain calm. We've fought (and won) similar cases before and will do so again."

Agri SA in a statement said it was in the process of establishing the legitimacy of the list, but maintained that AfriForum knew that publishing unconfirmed information would be inflammatory.

'List contained several inaccuracies'

"Cursory background research showed that the list contained several inaccuracies which could easily have been verified before release. Upon investigation by Agri SA's affiliates, it came to light that the list contained farms that are joint ventures that are co-owned by black people.

"The list also contained incomplete information on title deed descriptions and with farm names appearing without stating the subdivisions of those farms."

The agricultural industry association said expropriation could "only happen for a legitimate purpose mandated by statute and that a lengthy process that complies with the requirements of just administrative action needs to be followed".

"This means that expropriation cannot happen overnight and can only take place for reasons specified in a law of general application," Agri SA Head of the Centre of Excellence: Land Annelize Crosby said.

"There are various prescribed steps that must be followed in expropriation. This includes a notice of intention to expropriate, valuation of the property and negotiations with the owners.

"As the Constitution has not been changed, the requirement for expropriation remains just and equitable compensation."

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Read more on:    afriforrum  |  agri sa  |  land  |  land expropriation

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