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National Forum - Land, Heritage, Human Rights

These national Symposia draw together multiple stakeholders including leading academic, legal, political, interfaith, student, labour, business and community minds. Through these engagements we collectively provide innovative responses to complicated questions of land hunger, the affirmation of heritage and the enhancement of human and people’s rights.

The origins of the Symposium can be found in the Southern Cape, with its rich history and heritage that began with a focus on the Khoi-San as the “First Nations”. Within this context, the Nelson Mandela University and South African Human Rights Commission brought important attention to bear on questions of land and language, history and heritage as well as social cohesion. We have placed further emphasis on the effective implementation of land reform through Section 25 of the South African Constitution, which is vital and understandably urgent for the radical socio-economic transformation of our people that must be achieved rationally and lawfully. Indeed, eminent legal scholars agree that Section 25 does make provision for expropriation of land without compensation under specific conditions, without the requirement to change the Constitution1. They also argue that compelling and enabling legislation is required for the accelerated redistribution of land for the upliftment of our people2.

"The naked truth is that there can be no justice without access to social and economic rights. Access to and ownership of land and its natural resources is the fundamental basis of social and economic justice.3"

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe has cautioned that South Africa’s land use management has collapsed and paves the way for people to grab land for their own use. As Chair of the High Panel on Key Legislation and Acceleration of Fundamental Change, he has raised serious concerns about the slow progress made in dealing with land restitution citing budgetary constraints, as one of the many hurdles to accelerating access to land.


1 Prof. Bogani Majola: Chair-South African Human Rights Commission, Pretoria, 19 April 2017

2 Adv. Leks Makua: Johannesburg Bar, Pretoria, 19 April 2017

3 Prof. Mathole Motshekga, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Chair: Justice and Correctional Services - Huffington Post, 5 March 2017