The South African Institute for Race Relations says clauses in the Expropriation Bill may allow municipalities to become the judge and jury whenever they expropriate property.

The Bill creates a framework for municipalities to expropriate property if it is in the public interest.

The Institute’s Head of Policy Research, Anthea Jeffrey, said here over the weekend that the worrying factor in the Bill was that it does not require a municipality to get a court order first before expropriating property for development or public purposes.

“So, in many cases, municipalities will simply be judge and jury in their own course. They will decide that it is in the public interest. They will decide that the compensation that they are offering is just and equitable,” she added.

“People would not be able to get to court to have the compensation assessed by the Judiciary although we also have a right of access to courts guaranteed in the Constitution. So, those are the kinds of problems with regards to the contents of the Bill.”

The Expropriation Bill was passed by the National Assembly on Thursday. The SAIRR had earlier petitioned President Jacob Zuma to refer the Bill back to Parliament, saying it did not meet various constitutional requirements.

Two opposition political parties — the Democratic Alliance and Freedom Front Plus — say they may go to the Constitutional Court to challenge the Bill. The ruling African national Congress caucus in Parliament says it is ready to meet the two opposition parties in the Constitutional Court if they do so.

Source: Nam News Network

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