Addressing the issue in Harvey v Umhlatuze Municipality in legislation

Slade, B. V. (2014-01)

CITATION: Slade, B.V. 2014. Addressing the issue in Harvey v Umhlatuze Municipality in legislation. Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif 25(1):116-125.

The original publication is available at https://journals.co.za/content/journal/ju_slr

Article

In Harvey v Umhlatuze Municipality 2011 1 SA 601 (KZP) ("Harvey") the High Court had to decide whether it was competent to order the re-transfer of expropriated property to the previous owner when the purpose for which the property was expropriated could not be realised. The court refused to order the re-transfer of the property due to the absence of legislation that authorises the Court to re-transfer expropriated property upon the non-realisation of the purpose of the expropriation. In March 2013, a draft Expropriation Bill was released for public comment. This note shows that the Expropriation Bill, if passed into law, does not address the issue that was present in Harvey, but only allows for the re-transfer of previously expropriated property in very limited circumstances. Since the Expropriation Bill does not effectively address the issue that was present in Harvey, recommendations are made that should resolve the issue that was present in that decision. The main objective of the amending provisions should be to indicate the nature of the right of re-transfer, the persons entitled to claim re-transfer, the time-frame within which the expropriated owner can reclaim the property upon non-implementation of the purpose, setting up a framework for calculating the amount that has to be repaid, as well as the circumstances under which the state would not be required to re-transfer the property to the previous owner. Including detailed legislation that effectively resolves the issue in Harvey v Umhlatuze Municipality, the state would be prevented from changing the purpose for which expropriated property is used at its own discretion. It would also prevent the state from using a valid public purpose as a smokescreen to use the property for a different purpose after the property has been expropriated.

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