Integrating land tenure management in South Africa

In South Africa, 2 tenure systems co-exist: 

  1. the traditional customary system 
  2. the formalised statutory system

Traditional customary systems of land rights are the oldest tenure system. The formalised statutory system stems from colonialism and apartheid. This system only allows formalised land rights described in a title deed to be registered. 

The traditional customary system blocks improvement

Approximately 60% of the population (especially in rural areas) is estimated to hold the traditional customary land rights. This gives insecurity over land rights. The lack of a good functioning land registration system hampers emerging farms to invest when their land is not properly registered. As a result, up-scaling their activities to improve their livelihood and employment opportunities is out of reach. 

Assessing the situation in South Africa

Last year Dutch Cadastre visited key stakeholders in Pretoria, Limpopo and Free State in South Africa to assess possibilities to supporting securing tenure rights in rural areas. The inception mission focused on getting a clear understanding of the existing land administration processes and systems and the roles and responsibilities of institutions involved. The responsible institutions are further digitalising the process. Yet, there is no integrated online land administration system that can handle both the spatial component (parcel boundaries) and the title deeds (describing the people to land relationships).  

Working towards an integrated land system

For the years 2023 and 2024, Kadaster will assist in developing plans for an integrated land registry and cadastre system, including both statutory and customary land rights. A well-functioning land administration is expected to improve possibilities for further development of agriculture and rural areas.

More information

Read more on our project page: South Africa: Integrating land tenure management.