The Immigration Act 13 of 2002 ("the Act") came into operation on 12 March 2003 and repeals inter alia the Aliens Control Act 96 of 1991.
In terms of the repealed Aliens Control Act, the only restriction on an alien from acquiring immovable property in the Republic of South Africa was if such alien was illegally in the Republic (see section 32).
To summarise, the following aliens could purchase immovable property and have such property registered in their names:
- Aliens having a residence permit which would restrict the acquisition of immovable property to the area for which the permit was issued.
- Aliens entering or travelling through the Republic legally.
- Aliens outside the borders of the Republic.
The Immigration Act does not refer to "alien", but defines "foreigner and "illegal foreigner". Section 42 of the Act read with section 49(6) have similar provisions to section 32 of the Aliens Control Act. The Immigration Act also provides that any person who aids, assists or enables an illegal foreigner or foreigner with the selling or making available of immovable property shall be guilty of an offence.
It is clear from the wording of section 42 and 49(6), that there rests no duty on the registrar of deeds to police the provisions of the Act. Conveyancers and/or estate agents will, however, have to ensure that a transaction entered into by a foreigner does not contravene the provisions of the Act.
Republished with permission