Under the former government, different groups, on the basis of their race, had entirely
unequal access to land for residential and economic purposes. This situation regarding
land ownership eventuated in a situation whereby the majority of previously disadvantaged
people were unable to utilise one of their greatest assets - land ownership. Owning land
effectuates, among others, security of tenure, access to credit and marketability. In addition
to this racial fragmentation, in different areas, different laws and systems of tenure applied. Land Reform was desperately needed.
Until recently, it was impossible for people from the previously disadvantaged group to get
registered ownership rights to land in most parts of the country. This created a severe land
shortage and many people established houses on nominally state-owned land without any
formal rights. This phenomenon of displaced urbanisation led to the rise of large informal
settlement, lacking any functional autonomy with extreme overcrowding of areas with
Historically, some informal settlement processes may well have been illegal initially but have
now gained permanence. While recognising that the informal processes is not permission to
occupy land illegally, historically illegal acts must be regularised (recognised as if they had been legal).
Rapid and consistent urbanisation, unmatched by sufficient housing, land and service delivery,
entrenched the significance of informal housing and economic opportunities in both the urban
and rural context. It also saw the growing acceptance of the need for security of tenure for people
who lived in informal settlements. The onus is on authorities to act and eviction from the land is
not an option. In fact, not regularising these settlements entrenches insecurity of tenure and is
a breach of the DFA principles. There is an immense amount of informally held land in South
Africa and the constitution has made the right to own land fundamental.
Land Reform, positive & creative planning is now more necessary than ever. The current distorted settlement
pattern found in many places will not correct itself automatically, nor will it be addressed by
default. The development of more efficient and enabling settlement systems, is necessary to
improve the quality of life in informal settlements. Therefore the main objective of the tenure
projects is to complete all the requirements for the establishment of a township, which will
enable the beneficiaries to take legal possession of erven they have been occupying informally
in order to enable the Local Authority to focus its efforts on the provision of basic household
infrastructure in historically marginalised settlements.
The goal of these projects can be summarised in three stages.
Stage one aspires to complete all formalities to formalise a settlement
thereby creating a platform for effective property administration, management,
planning and delivery to beneficiaries.
Stage two implements a custom made, streamlined program which will enable
the beneficiaries of the communities to take legal possession of erven/rights.
Stage three delivers the framework created for land reform, which will enable the Local Authority
to focus its efforts on the provision of basic household infrastructure in these
historically marginalised settlements.
The following are some examples of expected deliverables depending on the land holding option followed:
- approved layout plans;
- conditions of establishment;
- general plans;
- township registers;
- township proclamations;
- legal entity;
- property register;
- legal documents;
- title deeds to beneficiaries; and
- a data base.
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