'Restrict ownership of SA land'

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

In the wake of allegations that parastatal Transnet sold part of Cape Town's coastal area near the V&A Waterfront to a Dubai-based company, calls are growing for foreign land ownership to be restricted or banned altogether.

Parliament's environmental portfolio committee chairman Langa Zita said "foreign ownership of land is an area that needs serious regulation".

"We have to address land hunger and allow room for foreign capital to participate in the South African economy. But the effect has been to inflate land prices," Zita said.

Meanwhile, the war of words over Transnet's alleged sale of the land continued in Parliament yesterday, with Transnet chief executive Maria Ramos clashing with environment portfolio committee members yesterday.

'Foreigners will soon own more property than South Africans, then they will close down our beaches'

Ramos again denied that the "sea" had been sold. But, Advocate Radia Razack of the Department of Environmental Affairs said though Transnet does not "own the sea", it has control over 90km of sea from the Waterfront to Robben Island, and over 20km of Cape Town's coastline.

Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich said foreign ownership is "pushing up land and property prices. The local population is pushed out of the market to the margins of the city. Maybe 99-year leases could be introduced for foreign investors instead".

Mangaliso Khubeka of the Landless Peoples' Movement said foreign companies must be "banned from buying land. It is not fair while our people don't have land. Foreign companies will soon own more land than South Africans and then they will close down our beaches".

Anthea van der Burg of the Centre for Rural Legal Studies said she has represented many farmworkers who lost their jobs and homes when the farms they worked on were sold to foreigners.