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Property, social justice and citizenship : property law in postapartheid South Africa

Van Der Walt, A. J. (2008-03)

CITATION: Van Der Walt, A.J. 2008. Property, social justice and citizenship: Property law in Post-apartheid South Africa . Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif 19(3):325-346.

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This article examines the question whether property law can and should foster democratic forms of governance, advance social justice, promote citizenship and build sustainable and supportive communities. The question is particularly relevant in post-apartheid South Africa, since apartheid land law worked in exactly the opposite direction. “Grand apartheid” undermined what would normally be considered democratic forms of governance and citizenship because it institutionalised discriminatory and socially divisive and destructive agricultural and urban land use policies and management systems, thereby causing or exacerbating overcrowding, social displacement and economic marginalisation. At the same time, the discriminatory landuse and – management laws and practices of “petty apartheid” systematically destroyed any possibility of fostering social justice, good citizenship and the building of sustainable and supportive communities. The advent of the post-1994 democratic dispensation in South Africa and the concomitant constitutional directives to eradicate the legacy of apartheid and to promote the values of human dignity, equality and freedom present a felicitous opportunity to ask whether the post-1994 political, constitutional and social dispensation can reverse the legacy of apartheid by, among other things, fostering democratic forms of governance and citizenship and advancing social justice and the building of sustainable and supportive communities.

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