Subdivision of Agricultural Land

As at August 2018, no topic was hotter in South African socio-economic and political circles than the expropriation of land – and then without compensation. It is a huge issue, with angles and interests from all perspectives. How it is managed will make an interesting study in years to come, but an overwhelming hope is that, whatever the exercise produces, the process will be peaceful.

One thing for certain is that the land going to be expropriated is farm land. That, as far as the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act 1970 is concerned, means agricultural land. The chances are that this Act may well be swept away1 by a new legislative order to address the expropriation and redistribution of the land, but until this happens, its provisions apply whenever any agricultural land is to be subdivided. Basically, if one plot of land is to be made into two plots, it has to be ‘subdivided’. In the case of agricultural land, this – and a lot of other things relating to the land – need the consent of the Minister of Agriculture.

  1. Any person who makes a false statement in any application made in terms of the Act commits a crime by doing so.2

  2. If you fail to disclose any information in any application in terms of the Act, with the intent to deceive, it is an offence.3

  3. The Minister can refuse such an application, or he can grant it and impose conditions in regard to the purpose for, or manner in which the land may be used. It is a crime to contravene or not comply with any such conditions.4

B. Leases of agricultural land

  1. It is a criminal offence to enter into a lease in regard to a portion of agricultural land, without the consent of the Minister, if the lease:
    • is for a period of 10 years or longer; or
    • is for the life of the lessee (i.e. tenant) or any other person mentioned in the lease; or
    • is renewable at the will of the tenant.5

C. Sale of agricultural land

  1. It is a crime to sell (or even advertise for sale) a portion of agricultural land without the Minister’s consent.6 7

  2. Also, it is an offence to sell or grant (or advertise) any right to such a portion for:

    • a period longer than 10 years; or
    • for the life of any person,

    without the consent of the Minister, unless it is for the purposes of a mine.8

D. Land investigations

  1. The Minister can authorize entry, investigations, and other acts to be performed on agricultural land and which relate to the purposes of the Act: subdivision, the creation and registration of servitudes and so on. It is a crime to hinder or obstruct any person in the performance of these functions.9
  1. It is already awaiting repeal by Act 64 of 1998. 

  2. Section 11(a). 

  3. Ibid

  4. Section 11(c) read with section 4(2). 

  5. Section 11(cA) read with section 3(d). 

  6. This is not needed if it is for the purposes of a mine. 

  7. Section 11(d) read with section 3(e)i. 

  8. Section 11(d) read with section 3(e)ii. 

  9. Section 11(b) read with section 7.