Conflicting levels of engagement under the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act and the Minerals and Petroleum Development Act : a closer look at the Xolobeni Community dispute

Tlale, Mpho Tsepiso (2020-06-18)

CITATION: Tlale, M. T. 2020. Conflicting levels of engagement under the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act and the Minerals and Petroleum Development Act : a closer look at the Xolobeni Community dispute. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 23:1–32, doi:10.17159/1727-3781/2020/v23i0a6856.

The original publication is available at https://perjournal.co.za

Article

The South African customary land tenure system is currently administered in terms of the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act 31 of 1996 (IPILRA). As the name suggests, this is a temporary measure to protect vulnerable customary land rights while awaiting permanent communal land tenure legislation. In terms of section 2(1) of the IPILRA, no person may be deprived of any informal right to land without his or her consent. This provision is subject to subsection (4) of the IPILRA, the Expropriation Act 63 of 1975 or any other law that provides for the expropriation of land rights. Accordingly, section 2(4) states that no one may be deprived of his or her informal rights in land unless it is through the Expropriation Act, any valid land expropriation legislation or through custom that is endorsed by a majority of the community members. Nevertheless, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the mineral right applicants habitually contravene this consent provision by not including the beneficiaries of the IPILRA in the mineral right application process. The DMR awards licences without the communities' consent because the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA) authorises it to act as the custodian of mineral resources on behalf of all South Africans. When an application for mineral rights is received, it is the DMR's duty as a custodian to ensure that all the requirements of the MPRDA have been complied with. These levels of engagement, consent under the IPILRA and consultation in terms of the MPRDA, form the basis of the analysis of the decision of Baleni v Minister of Mineral Resources. Although the court decided that the acceptable level of engagement is consent in terms of the IPILRA, this article argues that consultation and consent are not mutually exclusive, and hence require reading the two pieces of legislation together.

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