Land, Law and Chiefs in Rural South Africa

Contested Histories and Current Struggles
Editor(s): , ,
Contributor(s): , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Publication Date: May 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156mm; Extent: 344 pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-679-6
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-682-6
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-681-9
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 420.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 35.00

Land, Law and Chiefs in Rural South Africa will prove a valuable resource both for practitioners of land reform and for those trying to understand why it is so difficult to achieve.
— Sara Berry, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University

… a timely, accessible and deeply researched collection by leading academics and activists
in the field. It will be essential reading for all those who want a better grasp of issues which,
although little debated outside of specialist forums, are of vital importance to South Africa’s
present and future.
— Peter Delius, Department of History, University of the Witwatersrand

Who controls the land and minerals in the former Bantustans of South Africa – chiefs, the state or landholders? Disputes are taking place around the ownership of resources, decisions about their exploitation and who should benefit. With respect to all of these issues, the courts have become increasingly important.

The contributors to Land, Law and Chiefs in Rural South Africa capture some of these intense contestations over land, law and political authority, focussing on threats to the rights of ordinary people. History and customary law feature strongly in most disputes and succession to chieftaincy is also frequently disputed. Judges have to make decisions in a context where rival claimants to property or office assert their own versions of history and custom.  The South African constitution recognises customary law and the courts are attempting to incorporate and develop this branch of jurisprudence as ‘living customary law’. Lawyers, community leaders and academics are called on to assist in researching cases around restitution, land rights and customary law.

The chapters in this collection discuss legal cases and policy directions that have evolved since 1994.   Some chapters analyse the increasing power of chiefs in the South African rural areas, while others suggest that the courts are giving support to popular rights over land and supporting local democratic processes. Contributors record significant pushback from groups that reject traditional authority. These political tensions are a central theme of the collection and thus serve as vital case studies in furthering our understanding of rights and restitution in South Africa.

Preface – William Beinart
Introduction Land, Law and Chiefs: Contested Histories and Current Struggles – William Beinart
Chapter 1 Constitutional Court Judgements, Customary Law and Democratisation in South Africa – Geoff Budlender
Chapter 2 Was ‘Living Customary Law’ There All Along? – Derick Fay
Chapter 3 When Custom Divides ‘Community’: Legal Battles over Platinum in North West Province – Sonwabile Mnwana
Chapter 4 Chiefs, Mines and the State in the Platinum Belt: The Bapo-ba-Mogale Traditional Community and Lonmin – Gavin Capps
Chapter 5 Grave Sites and Dispossession in Mpumalanga – Dineo Skosana
Chapter 6 The Abuse of Interdicts by Traditional Leaders in South Africa – Joanna Pickering and Ayesha Motala
Chapter 7 Resisting the Imposition of Ubukhosi: Contested Authority-Making in the Former Ciskei – Thiyane Duda and Janine Ubink
Chapter 8 Black Landlords, Their Tenants and the Natives Administration Act of 1927 – Khumisho Moguerane
Chapter 9 Customary Law and Land Ownership in the Eastern Cape – Rosalie Kingwill
Chapter 10 A History of Communal Property Associations in South Africa – Tara Weinberg
Chapter 11 ‘This is Business Land’: The Hlolweni Land Claim, 1983-2016 – Raphael Chaskalson
Chapter 12 Restitution and Land Rights in the Eastern Cape: The Hlolweni, Mgungundlovu and Xolobeni Cases – William Beinart
Contributors
Index

About the Editors

William Beinart is a historian and Emeritus Professor at St Antony’s College,
University of Oxford. He has recently published, with Peter Delius and Michelle Hay,
Rights to Land and, with Sonwabile Mnwana and Luvuyo Wotshela, on land reform
and agrarian change.
Rosalie Kingwill is a research associate at the Institute for Poverty, Land and
Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), University of the Western Cape, an independent critical
consultant on land issues and an active participant in civil society movements on
land reform.
Gavin Capps is a senior lecturer in Economics at Kingston University, London and
a research associate at the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) at the
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Land, Law and Chiefs in Rural South Africa will prove a valuable resource both for practitioners of land reform and for those trying to understand why it is so difficult to achieve.
— Sara Berry, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University

… a timely, accessible and deeply researched collection by leading academics and activists
in the field. It will be essential reading for all those who want a better grasp of issues which,
although little debated outside of specialist forums, are of vital importance to South Africa’s
present and future.
— Peter Delius, Department of History, University of the Witwatersrand

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