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Land

 
Land

The LRC’s land lawyers work in far-flung rural areas on mat­ters that lawyers in pri­vate prac­tice gen­er­ally do not engage with and for which State or other fund­ing is inac­ces­si­ble. The LRC has con­sis­tently pri­ori­tised work in these areas and has thus acquired exten­sive expe­ri­ence; an acknowl­edged track record of skill and exper­tise; and wide­spread trust amidst the poor­est and most mar­gin­alised com­mu­ni­ties in South Africa.

LRC land reform work draws from expe­ri­ence gained in resist­ing forced removals since 1978 and, since 1994, from pros­e­cut­ing land claims and assist­ing client com­mu­ni­ties to secure land-based liveli­hoods in terms of post-apartheid land reform poli­cies.

As one of only a few pub­lic inter­est lit­i­ga­tion firms in South Africa, the LRC sup­ports par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ties on a case-by-case basis. Where pos­si­ble, it works together with oth­ers such as the lit­i­ga­tion office of the South African Human Rights Com­mis­sion, the Women’s Law Cen­tre, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Law Cen­tres of the state-funded Legal Aid Board, and the com­mu­nity law cen­tres asso­ci­ated with the law schools of some uni­ver­si­ties.

As a rule, LRC lawyers do not rep­re­sent com­mu­ni­ties in devel­op­ment ini­tia­tives with­out work­ing in multi-disciplinary teams. The LRC col­lab­o­rates in its case­and advo­cacy work with insti­tu­tions such as the Uni­ver­sity of the West­ern Cape’s Pro­gramme for Land and Agrar­ian Stud­ies, organ­i­sa­tion the Com­mis­sion for Gen­der Equal­ity, South African Coun­cil of Churches, the Con­gress of South African Trade Unions and a range of non-profit organ­i­sa­tions includ­ing the Sur­plus People’s Project, FARM-Africa, The Rural Action Com­mit­tee Mpumalanga, South­ern Cape Land Com­mit­tee and the Black Sash.

LRC pre­pares sub­mis­sions on nec­es­sary statu­tory reform, com­ments on pol­icy papers and draft leg­is­la­tion, and uses all avenues for par­tic­i­pa­tion in the leg­isla­tive processes of national, provin­cial and local gov­ern­ment.

Our col­lab­o­ra­tion with non-governmental and gov­ern­ment organ­i­sa­tions includes shar­ing progress reports and infor­ma­tion; under­tak­ing joint plan­ning where work areas over­lap to avoid dupli­ca­tion of effort and increase effi­ciency; advo­cat­ing for the release of land and the appro­pri­ate secur­ing of tenure for indi­vid­ual land reform ben­e­fi­cia­ries more effec­tively; and set­tling a uni­form approach to cap­tur­ing base­line data for ongo­ing mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion of com­mon­age and other land reform projects and to under­take such mon­i­tor­ing.

The strat­egy in reduc­ing the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the rural poor is to:

Lit­i­gate on behalf of poor and dis­pos­sessed indi­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties to pro­tect and pro­mote their con­sti­tu­tional rights 

  • Pro­vide legal assis­tance in the for­ma­tion of com­mu­nity land-holding and man­age­ment arrange­ments
  • Pro­vide legal assis­tance to secure rights to and/or an equi­table share in nat­ural resources and access to related infra­struc­ture and sup­port
  • Advo­cate for related law and pol­icy reform
  • Train pub­lic inter­est and human rights lawyers with par­tic­u­lar under­stand­ing of land reform related issues
  • Col­lab­o­rate with and sup­port civil soci­ety to build democ­racy

Focus areas:
The LRC’s land work has a strong focus on law and pol­icy reform and active col­lab­o­ra­tion with other stake­hold­ers. How­ever the main thrust is within the lit­i­ga­tion case­work which falls within the fol­low­ing (often over­lap­ping) key impact cat­e­gories: 

  • Com­mu­nity land restora­tion lit­i­ga­tion and nego­ti­a­tion (includ­ing a few urban resti­tu­tion cases)
  • Resti­tu­tion (post) set­tle­ment, legal assis­tance on insti­tu­tional arrange­ments, tenure and access to resources
  • Munic­i­pal com­mon­age work and redis­tri­b­u­tion

LRC’s work ranges from large land claims involv­ing the return of land to com­mu­ni­ties for agri­cul­tural use and other eco­nomic activ­i­ties (includ­ing min­ing), secur­ing just and equi­table com­pen­sa­tion in instances where land can­not be returned, and the devel­op­ment of post-restitution plans to the pro­tec­tion of farm work­ers and ten­ants against unlaw­ful evic­tions.

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National Offices

Tel: +27 11 836 9831
Email: info@lrc.org.za

Address: 15th and 16th Floor, Bram Fis­cher Tow­ers,
20 Albert Street, Mar­shall­town, Johan­nes­burg
PO Box 9495, Johan­nes­burg 2000

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