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Twist in mineral rights case

Oct 07 2012 15:04 Philip de Bruin

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Cape Town – The November 8 hearing in the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the new dispensation in which the state is the supreme guardian of all mining rights has taken a turn.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng received three applications for admission as parties to the action. Each of the applications is for admission as amicus curiae (friend of the court).

The application by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals) at the University of the Witwatersrand will be on behalf of Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu. The application is for the current dispensation to be retained.

Lisa Chamberlain, acting head of Cals, says the government has a constitutional duty to rectify the inequalities of the past – also in terms of mineral rights.

“The new law (which takes mineral rights away from landowners and puts them under the minister’s care) is the product of an extensive process of consultation to end the discriminatory system related to mineral rights that are in private hands. The old system was characteristic of the apartheid mining industry,” she says.

AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel applied on behalf of AfriForum to be admitted as a party.

He says AfriForum’s AfriBusiness division is particularly concerned that the constitutional right to property (of mineral rights holders before the new dispensation came into effect) needs defending.

He says that in their court papers the two actual parties in the constitutional court – Agri SA and Shabangu – have given entirely too little attention to the issue of the right to property.

Floris Pool, a landowner, says in his application to be admitted as a party that he has a massive interest in the outcome of the Constitutional Court proceedings.

His attorney, Daniël Ribbens, says if Pool is not permitted to join the case, he is more than likely to suffer massive, irreparable damage.

Mogoeng will give his decision on the three applications shortly.

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