It was noted that according to international law standards of the time, the acquisition of South African land by the Dutch and British was lawful. However, this claim was refuted and the house was urged to take into consideration the customary law South Africa was under then, which would deem the land seizure as unlawful. In this regard, another student contested the idea that the black people of the time lived communally and said that families lived in designated territories in whichever kingdom they were a part of. Another student backed this challenge and gave reference to the resistance the Dutch faced from the locals, showing how the locals indeed had defined territories. The legitimacy of the current land ownership was then questioned. As colonialism and apartheid are now viewed as crimes against humanity, a student called white ownership of land unlawful as “any benefits you get from apartheid are wrong,” he said.

Section 25 of South Africa’s Constitution says that everyone has the right to property and that “no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property.” However it does state that people who were dispossessed after the Native Land Act of 1913 passed are entitled to “restitution of that property or to equitable redress”. The general consensus reached was that the section has limiting standards that take long to implement. In addition, it was proposed that civil society could be the most suitable expropriators on behalf of the people.  In other cases, traditional authorities such as kings could effectively manage the land in their regions.

Zimbabwe radically took land from white Zimbabwean owners in the early 2000s. Some participants of the discussion suggested that such a drastic measure may be the only way for black people to get land back. However, Zimbabwe’s land grabs bore consequences, such as poor crop yields that contributed to its weakening economy. It was concluded that careful planning and consideration prior to such an extreme endeavour would be essential for South Africa to avoid ending up like its northerly neighbour.


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