n Journal for Contemporary History - The Bethany Mission Station : the first successful land claim in the Free State

Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



The history of land dispossession in South Africa has been widely researched. Although a number of processes have been responsible for the inequitable distribution of political power and wealth in South Africa, it has been argued that the dispossession of land was most important for the deprived communities. The present inequitable distribution of land in South Africa can be traced back to the Natives Land Act of 1913, the Urban Areas Act of 1923, and the Group Areas Act of 1950. In the early 1990s, after the unbanning of the ANC, there were high expectations among rural people that land would be returned to them and that the advent of democracy would mean that opportunities to own and use land would be opened up across the country. From 1994, the ANC-led Government of National Unity (GNU) embarked on an ambitious land reform programme. One of the pieces of legislation passed by the GNU was the Land Restitution Act of 1994, which provided mechanisms to address the land dispossessions.

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