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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 04:36 GMT 05:36 UK
S African white farm to be seized
Landless South Africans calling for land reform, July 2005
South Africa's landless have been calling for swifter land reform
South Africa says it will for the first time force a white farmer to sell his land under a redistribution plan.

The decision was announced by the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, set up to return to black people land lost under apartheid.

An official said talks to agree on a price for the farm had failed and the farmer has vowed to challenge the move.

South Africa's government says it wants to hand over about a third of white-owned farm land by 2014.

The commission on Thursday said an expropriation notice would be served on Hannes Visser, the owner of a cattle and crop farm in North West province.

The government offered to buy the 500-hectare (1,250-acre) farm for $275,000 but Mr Visser said it was worth almost twice as much.

'Too slow'

Mr Visser told the South African news agency Sapa he intended to fight the decision in court.

"Should the courts turn out to be my final recourse, I will go that route," he said.

Two-thirds of the country... remains in the hands of less than 60,000 people who unfortunately in this case are white farmers
Blessing Mphela
Regional land claims commissioner

The government argues that Mr Visser's father bought the land from a black farmer through a forced transaction in 1968.

Regional land claims commissioner Blessing Mphela said the seizure was a last resort.

But he added that South Africa must speed up land reform or face chaos.

Eighty per cent of agricultural land is owned by white South Africans, who make up only 10% of the population - the legacy of apartheid laws.

Since coming to power in 1994, the current government has adopted a "willing buyer, willing seller" approach to land redistribution, paying market prices for land that white owners are prepared to sell, and then distributing it to landless blacks.

But Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says the pace of reform should be speeded up - as in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where most white-owned land has been seized by the state.

"There needs to be a bit of oomph. That's why we may need the skills of Zimbabwe to help us," she said.



SEE ALSO
Call to end S African evictions
06 Sep 05 |  Africa
SA proposes quicker land reform
27 Jul 05 |  Africa

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