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Farmers and Agri SA show muscle in watershed case on property values

Agri SA is elated by the recent judgement of the Land Claims Court which confirms that the Minister of Rural Development and the Valuer-General cannot disregard the jurisdiction of the courts in matters of compensation. The judgement thwarts the bullying tactics used to try and get landowners to accept half of the agreed compensation and calls into question the application of the Property Valuation Act. This is the second recent watershed case on compensation which Agri SA has been involved in to ultimately support all South African farmers.

“The implications of this judgement are quite profound since it lays bare the bullying tactics already used, but stops it in its tracks,” said Annelize Crosby, Agri SA Policy Head: Land. “The rule of law and the right to just and equitable compensation has been validated.”

Judge AJ Canca handed down the judgement in the case of the Emakhasaneni community on Wednesday. The precedent this case sets is maintaining the oversight of the courts in compensation matters and limiting the role of the Valuer-General in arriving at the amount of compensation which landowners are entitled to.

Background of the case

The case has a very long history and involves several farms in the Melmoth district in KwaZulu-Natal.

The valuers representing the landowners and the state had previously agreed on what they considered to be just and equitable compensation.  The Valuer-General got involved at a later stage and offered the landowners about 50% of the amount that the valuers agreed upon.  The state took the position that the landowners were obliged to relinquish their properties at the amounts set by the Valuer -General.  The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform argued that she was bound by the offer made by the Valuer-General and refused to budge on that. Moreover, the state took the position that the court had no jurisdiction over the matter of compensation.

Judge Canca found that the Property Valuation Act could not exclude the jurisdiction of the courts in adjudicating matters of compensation. He also found that the Act did not preclude the Minister from paying compensation that exceeds the value determined by the Valuer-General. He found that the valuation guidelines prescribed by the regulations could result in valuations which are much lower than just and equitable compensation determined in terms of section 25(3) of the Constitution. If the properties had been expropriated, section 25(3) would have applied.  The court was not bound by the values determined by the Valuer-General. Costs were awarded in favour of the landowners.

“This is a step in the right direction for just and equitable compensation.”

Agri SA welcomes this judgement and will be involved in future cases in support of our members and all South African farmers.

 

Boere en Agri SA vertoon sterk in waterskeidingsaak oor eiendomswaardes

Agri SA is verheug oor die onlangse uitspraak in die Grondeisehof wat bevestig het dat die Minister van Landelike Ontwikkeling en Waardeerder-Generaal nie die jurisdiksie van die howe in vergoedingsake mag verontagsaam nie. Die uitspraak stuit die boelie-taktiek wat gebruik is om grondeienaars te oorreed om slegs die helfte van die ooreengekome vergoeding te aanvaar en bevraagteken die toepassing van die Wet op Eiendomswaardasie. Dit is die tweede onlangse waterskeidingsaak oor vergoeding waarby Agri SA betrokke was in ‘n poging om alle Suid-Afrikaanse boere te ondersteun.

“Die implikasies van hierdie uitspraak is diepgaande aangesien dit die boelie-taktiek wat voorheen gebruik is stopsit,” sê Annelize Crosby, Agri SA se beleidshoof: Grond. “Die oppergesag van die reg en boere se reg tot regverdige en billike vergoeding is hiermee bekragtig.”

Regter AJ Canca het Woensdag uitspraak gelewer in die saak van die Emakhasaneni-gemeenskap. Die presedent wat deur hierdie saak skep word is dat oorsig deur die howe in vergoedingsake gehandhaaf word, terwyl die rol van die Waardeerder-Generaal in die bepaling van ‘n vergoedingsbedrag waarop grondeienaars geregtig is beperk word.

Agtergrond tot die saak

Die saak het ‘n lang geskiedenis en verskeie plase in die Melmoth-distrik in KwaZulu-Natal is hierby betrokke.

Die staat en die waardeerders wat grondeienaars verteenwoordig het voorheen ooreengekom op wat hulle beskou as regverdige en billike vergoeding. Die Waardeerder-Generaal het op ‘n latere stadium betrokke geraak en het die grondeienaars slegs 50% van die bedrag waarop die waardeerders ooreengekom het aangebied. Die staat se posisie was dat grondeienaars verplig is om afstand van hul eiendomme te doen teen die bedrae soos bepaal deur die Waardeerder-Generaal. Die Minister van Landelike Ontwikkeling en Grondhervorming het beweer dat sy verbind is tot die Waardeerder-Generaal se aanbod en het geweier om daarvan af te sien. Verder was dit ook die staat se posisie dat die hof geen jurisdiksie oor vergoedingsake het nie.

Regter Canca het bevind dat die Wet op Eiendomswaardasie nie die jurisdiksie van die howe in vergoedingsake kan uitsluit nie. Hy het ook bevind dat die wet nie die Minister verhoed om ‘n groter vergoedingsbedrag as wat die Waardeerder-Generaal bepaal het toe te staan nie. Hy het bevind dat die waardasie-riglyne soos voorgeskryf in die regulasies aanleiding kan gee tot ‘n waarde wat aansienlik laer is as regverdige en billike vergoeding ingevolge artikel 25(3) van die Grondwet. Indien eiendomme onteien was, sou artikel 25(3) gegeld het. Die hof was nie verbind tot die waardes soos bepaal deur die Waardeerder-Generaal nie. ‘n Kostebevel is gemaak ten gunste van die grondeienaars.

“Hierdie is ‘n stap in die regte rigting vir regverdige en billike vergoeding.”

Agri SA verwelkom hierdie uitspraak en sal betrokke wees in toekomstige sake ter ondersteuning van sy lede en alle Suid-Afrikaanse boere.