Despite the achievement of Constitutional democracy in 1994, 'the land question' is at the heart of South Africa's struggles to overcome the cumulative legacies of nearly 350 years of white minority rule. The emotive quality of land policies evokes painful legacies fuelled by disappointments with the official land reform programme ushered in by the new Constitution of 1996. There is broad agreement that land reform programmes have not fulfilled their aims to significantly redistribute land and productive agrarian capacity, strengthen land tenure for the majority, and settle the restitution claims of victims of land dispossession.
“If you are stealing something it’s better if it’s small and hideable or something you can eat quickly and be done with, like guavas. That way, people can’t see you, be reminded that you are a shameless thief. It is still debatable as to why the white people were trying to do in the first place, stealing not just a tiny piece but a whole country.
In theory, South Africa has strong laws to protect the property ownership and inheritance rights of all women. However, a 2018 study conducted by Bongi Owusu for her master’s dissertation in social science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal found that these laws are often not implemented in rural Zulu-speaking communities. She explains how this prejudices widows in particular.
South Africa embarked on a land reform process in 1994 to address the country’s tragic history of inequitable land distribution along racial lines. One of the aims of the process is to provide redress for people dispossessed of their rights in land as a result of racially discriminatory laws or practices.