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Big court win for millions of rural residents

Last week the controversial Ingonyama Trust was dealt a heavy blow by the Pietermaritzburg High Court for making people living on ancestral land pay rent. The court ruled that the policy introduced by the trust in 2012 is unconstitutional and unlawful. That policy saw millions of people go from effectively owning their land, thanks to a “permission to occupy” certificate, to being mere tenants who had to pay rent.

In 2019 alone, the Ingonyama Trust collected a whopping R90 million rand in rent from people living on its land. Many of these people are elderly and poor women who have long been actively excluded from land ownership because of the trust’s patriarchal system.

The court ruling slammed government, which was caught sleeping while the trust pretty much stole from its citizens. Once again, thank goodness for our judiciary and the civil society bodies that took the matter to court. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 17 June 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates