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Law Guide: Land Reform

This guide is designed to help you start your legal and law library research.

What is Land Reform?

Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. It may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution, generally of agricultural land. Land reform can, therefore, refer to transfer of ownership from the more powerful to the less powerful, such as from a relatively small number of wealthy owners with extensive land holdings  to individual ownership by those who work the land. Such transfers of ownership may be with or without compensation; compensation may vary from token amounts to the full value of the land.

Types of Land Reform

The democratic government in 1994 opted for a three-pronged land reform policy to redress the historical injustice of land dispossession, denial of access to land and forced removals:

  • Land Restitution to restore land or provide financial compensation for people dispossessed of the land after 1913.
  • Land Redistribution
  • Land Tenure reform

PLAAS: Institute for Povery, Land and Agrarian Studies


Timeline of Land Dispossession and Restitution in South Africa 1995-2013