Paving the way

In Baleni v Minister of Mineral Resources 2019 2 SA 453 (GP) the court, duly following the judicial guidance provided in Maledu v Itereleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources 2019 2 SA 1 (CC), made an important pronouncement on the rights of people who hold informal land tenure. The question in the Baleni judgment concerned the level of consent required to obtain a mining right over property held by a community with informal or customary land tenure. The court specifically considered provisions of the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act 31 of 1996 (IPILRA) and the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA), and concluded that the provisions of these Acts should be read together when determining the level of consent required. The court found that a community's consent, as required by IPILRA, and not merely consultation with a community, as required by the MPRDA, is necessary before a mining right can be obtained over a community's property.

The Baleni and the Maledu judgments set an important judicial precedent protecting informal land owners against the potentially harmful effects of mining activities, and establish a higher standard for obtaining a mining right over such property. However, despite the success of the judgment, many questions remain regarding the longevity of IPILRA, in particular, and a long-term solution to informal land tenure and land security in general. This case note argues that final legislation should be enacted to provide protection for people who hold informal land rights, and consequently to formalise indigenous communities' land rights to ensure that these judgments act as the precursor for fundamental change in the current debate regarding informal land rights.

See: Meyer Y: "Baleni v Minister of Mineral Resources 2019 2 SA 453 (GP): Paving the Way for Formal Protection of Informal Land Rights" PER / PELJ2020(23)-DOI for full case note.

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