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Concourt rules against Coega landowner

Nov 18 2010 18:39 Sapa

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Pretoria - The owner of about 505 hectares of land within the Coega Industrial Development Zone was never deprived of his property rights, despite threats of expropriation by the Coega Development Corporation, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday.

The court also ruled that it would not issue an order compelling Coega Development Corporation (CDC), Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet and the Public Works Minister to expropriate the land belonging to Offit Enterprises within a specified time.

In the case before the Concourt, Offit claimed that there were threats of expropriation by the developer and two previous unsuccessful attempts at expropriation.

Offit had previously failed to get the order that it sought in the high court and the Supreme Court of Appeal.

CDC argued that the mention of expropriation did not amount to an interference in its property rights.

In a unanimous judgment the Concourt upheld the order of the Supreme Court of Appeal, and dismissed the appeal with costs.

Justice Thembile Skweyiya noted that "It is by now clear that the threats of expropriation were made by the CDC which has no power to expropriate, and which has yet to make any application for expropriation. CDC and the other respondents would still need to comply with the legal and administrative requirements for a valid expropriation if the threats were ever to come to fruition."

He said only the Minister of Public Works had the power to authorise any expropriation.

"The crux of the issue is whether the series of conduct of which the applicants complain has deprived the applicants of the full use and enjoyment of their property to such an extent that it amounts to a deprivation. There has been no deprivation of property."

He said the actions of the CDC in his opinion amounted to nothing more than "forceful bargaining".

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