Posted on February 10, 2005

Government to Classify Land Owners by Race

Richard Davies, Cape Times (Cape Town), Feb. 10

The government yesterday confirmed it was looking at classifying land owners in South Africa in terms of their race and nationality, but said this was being done purely to help it gauge the pace of land reform.

Beeld newspaper earlier published a report claiming existing land legislation is to be amended to allow information on race and nationality to be shown on owners’ title deeds.

DA land affairs spokesman Maans Nel warned that such classification “risks becoming another form of institutionalised apartheid we have worked so hard to abolish”.

Land Affairs Department chief registrar of deeds, Sam Lefafa, said a meeting of parliament’s land affairs portfolio committee on Tuesday had declared the issue to be “fairly urgent”.

However, such information would “not necessarily appear on title deeds”.

He said a “big review process” was under way within the department, and the issue of establishing who owned what land was one of the briefs.

This information would put the government in a position to answer two frequently-asked questions.

“The first is the extent of foreign land ownership in South Africa; and second is the extent to which blacks have acquired land. It is important to know how many black people have acquired land since 1994; it is necessary to know the extent of the impact of land-reform policies.”

Lefafa said this was a “very innocent exercise” but he conceded it was contentious and of a “sensitive nature”.

“We will have to find ways to mitigate this.”