Ingonyama Trust loses lease court battle

Ingonyama Trust loses lease court battle

The Ingonyama Trust has been found to have acted unlawfully and in violation of the constitution, by making rural community members sign leases for land that was rightfully theirs under Zulu customary law.

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The trust was dragged to court by The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the Rural Women's Movement and seven other lessees.

In the judgment by the Pietermaritzburg High Court, the court declared that all residential lease agreements concluded by the trust or board in respect of the ancestral land are invalid.

It's ordered the trust to refund millions of rands it's received under these agreements.

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The court further declared that the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform failed to protect the constitutional right to property to ancestral landowners vested in respect of trust held land.

It says that until the Minister of Rural Development Thoko Didiza comes up with an alternate system of recording customary and other informal rights to land of those living on trust-held land, she must ensure administrative capacity to do so and report back to the court in three months' time.

The Ingonyama Trust and its board who opposed the application have been ordered to pay costs of the application.

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