The Ingonyama Trust - landmark ruling

15 Jun 2021
15 Jun 2021

The Pietermaritzburg High Court declared Friday 11 June that the Ingonyama Trust acted unlawfully and in violation of the Constitution by concluding residential leases with persons who are true owners of the land in terms of Zulu customary law.

UCT Law’s Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC) played a central role in achieving this ruling, along with the Rural Women’s Movement (RWM) working with its founder the late Mam’Sizane Ngubane. The parties, who included the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), RWM, and several individual community members, were represented by the Legal Resources Centre, and Advocates Geoff Budlender, Janice Bleazard, and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. The full LARC press statement is available for download.

The Court declared all leases over residential and agricultural land - with the true and beneficial owners under Zulu customary law or held in terms of the Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA), or with Permissions to Occupy (PTOs) - unlawful and invalid.

The Court ordered that the Ingonyama Trust must refund all money paid to it in terms of these leases, and further ordered that until such a time that the Minister adopts appropriate mechanisms of protecting customary, IPILRA, & PTO rights, proper processes must be reinstated to allow for the granting of PTO rights in terms of applicable KwaZulu Natal legislation.

The Court requires that the Minister report to the Court in three months on progress in resolving the issues related to the protection of these rights and the issuing of PTOs. The Minister is required to report to the Court every 3 months on progress in giving effect to the order.

Ms Nolundi Luwaya of UCT Law’s LARC, and Sharita Samuel of the Legal Resources Centre spent a half-hour on Monday 14 June talking with Thabo Mdluli on the Newzroom Afrika channel about the implications of the ruling – available to view on youtube.