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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
White SA farmer land sale first
By Peter Biles
BBC News, Johannesburg

Hannes Visser. File photo
Mr Visser bought the farm in 1968
A white South African farmer whose land had been earmarked for the first commercial expropriation has reached a sales agreement with the government.

The authorities want to transfer 30% of commercial farmland to black ownership by 2014, but progress has been slow.

The case of Hannes Visser's farm has been seen as a test of the government's determination to speed up the delicate process of land reform.

A provisional expropriation order was served on Mr Visser last October.

His father bought the farm near Lichtenburg in North-West province in 1968, but a black family had lodged a claim to the property dating back to the 1940s when they were forced to sell it.

Landless South Africans calling for land reform. File photo
Many are frustrated at the slow pace of land reform

After prolonged discussions with the government about the value of his farm, Mr Visser has said he is reluctantly accepting an offer, amounting to two-thirds of what he had been asking for.

This comes after three years of discussion.

The alternative would have been compulsory purchase by the Land Claims Commission.

South Africa regards expropriation as a last resort, and has been determined to avoid the political and economic chaos that has occurred during land seizures in neighbouring Zimbabwe over the past five years.

But there is also an acknowledgement that South Africa's policy of "willing buyer - willing seller" has slowed the redistribution of land.

In the 12 years since the end of apartheid, less than 4% of white farmland has been transferred to black ownership to allow for restitution.

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