General

Ownership of land in tribal areas

From my earlier posts I have been emphasizing land ownership in urban areas. A further issue that needs to be clarified is the issue of land ownership in rural areas or in tribal land. It should be noted that whilst its acknowledged that a title deed is the only document proving ownership in land, the same cannot be said in relation to properties in rural areas. Most of these properties are owned by tribal authorities, the state etc. and therefore no individual ownership is given to respective owners of stands in rural areas.

Although acknowledging that these stands are now being sold at exorbitant amounts, no ownership is registered anywhere in respect of the stand owner. These ownership acquisitions are done informally and do not grant owner anything other than a personal right.

As no registration is done in the Deeds Office they do not give owners real rights. They are more often than not sold informally, and subdivisions are not noted at Surveyor General’s office. They cannot serve as security under a bond hence financial institutions will only grant personal loans in respect of those stands for building purposes.

Normal remedies available in cases of an infringement of right to ownership cannot be applied in rural areas. In most instances, the owner has personal right against those who infringe upon their rights to land. Society should be wary of fact that although large sums of money are requested as a purchase price for these properties no transfer of ownership takes place.

Adv Audrey Gwangwa

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