chapter  2
14 Pages

Access to justice: Lessons from South Africa’s land reform program


The dispossession of land was both a means for and a measure of the subjugation of Africans in colonial and apartheid South Africa. Under colonial and settler governments, dispossession was carried out by conquest. After the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, it was carried out under color of law – the starting point being the Natives Land Act of 1913, which prohibited African ownership of land in all but a very small part of the country. Sol Plaatje, in his classic Native Life in South Africa (1916: 21), famously recorded:

Awaking on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.