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South Africa Serves First Seizure Order on White Farmer

Eddie Mohoebi of South Africa’s Commission on Restitution of Land Rights told the country’s News 24, ”Once we have served a notice of expropriation, the farmer has 21 days to respond or to appeal directly to the (lands) minister.”

The notice, given to livestock farmer Hannes Visser, comes after more than two years of negotiations between Visser and the government. Officials had agreed to buy Visser’s farm for 1.75 million rand (US$250,000), but Visser claims his property, home to a cattle and crop farm, is worth double that figure.

Visser has said he may go to court to try to get a higher price for the farm. His family has owned the property since 1968 and Visser himself has run it for the last 11 years, the BBC reported.

According to the land commission, a black farmer Abram Molamu, originally owned the land, but was “dispossessed through forced-sale transactions” during the apartheid government. Molamu’s family has filed a claim on the land.

Mohoebi said if Visser fails to vacate the property he could be forced off.

“The minister then has the right to summon enforcement agencies to affect the move forcibly,” he said, according to News 24.

Visser’s farm would be the first white-owned farm expropriated under South Africa’s land redistribution program, which the government set up 11 years ago to return land taken from black owners during apartheid. So far, under the willing-seller, willing-buyer program only 4 percent of that land has been returned, leading to complaints and mass protests from landless blacks.

The government blames the slow pace of redistribution on white farmers, who it claims are inflating the value of their farms making them impossible to buy.