12/09/2007 17:45 - (SA)
Cape Town - Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs Dirk du Toit promised MPs on Wednesday that the government will take land away from farmers who unjustifiably evict people from their farms.
Answering a question in National Assembly the deputy minister told David Dlali of the ANC that the government now intends to use existing legislation to tackle what he called "this medieval practice which is allowed to continue and continue", by expropriation.
The law he intends to use is the Provision of Land and Assistance Act of 1993, which was amended in 1998. The act says that agricultural land may be used for settlement if the minister decides it can.
But a key clause in it says: "The minister may for the purposes of this act, exercise equivalent powers to the powers that such other minister may exercise under the Expropriation Act, 1975."
That is he can force the owner to sell - for a reasonable price.
Du Toit told the house that the usual answer to a question about evictions was that the government will use the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, and the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act, to try to prevent evictions.
"Now I can tell you we intend to use these three pieces of legislation," he said.
"Once we start to take their land the evictions will stop in mid-air".
And he added to applause from the government benches: "We are not just going to take them to court. We are going to take their land."