How to respond to land invasion

Both state land (land under the control of a national or provincial government or municipality) and privately-owned land can be invaded unlawfully.

Government has a constitutional duty to ensure – where required and with available resources – that all citizens can enjoy their basic rights to access to land and to housing. Where large-scale invasions occur, government has a similar duty to assist private landowners to protect their land.

Where unlawful occupiers whose basic rights are not at risk have to be evicted, the private land owner must, without delay, approach the court for an eviction order in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998 (Act 19 of 1998). This law is currently administered by the Department of Human Settlements and will be transferred to the Department of Ruiral Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) in due course.

If your private land has been invaded, you can approach:

  • the court without delay for an eviction order in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998.
  • any office of the DRDLR for assistance if the land invasion has been invaded because the invaders need access to agricultural land.
  • the area’s local municipality or, if necessary, the provincial or national Department of Human Settlements for assistance if the invaders need housing.

The DRDLR will:

  • assist unlawful occupiers of any state or private land who need and have no agricultural land to obtain access to suitable agricultural land
  • assist other government authorities to find suitable alternative land for the unlawful occupiers in need of housing
  • where required and where special circumstances exist, assist private agricultural land owners whose land has been unlawfully invaded to relocate occupiers in need of agricultural land to suitable alternative land.

Individuals who have no access to agricultural land can approach the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform for assistance to find suitable agricultural land.

Individuals in need of housing can approach the local municipality or, if necessary, the provincial or national Department of Human Settlements for assistance.

To find out more about how to respond to land invasion contact the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.