n Acta Juridica - Taking the gap - 'Living law land grabbing' in the context of customary succession laws in Southern Africa

Volume 2011, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1346
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2088



This paper explores the interface between state and non-state family-based ways of accessing inheritable land in Southern Africa. It argues that the privatisation and individualisation of rights in land through state succession laws consisting of 'official customary law' and legislation enacted to reform customary law contribute to the phenomenon of 'living law land grabbing.' This phenomenon takes advantage of, and operates within, the gaps that are created by the state legal system. Thus, the gaps in the state legal system become the avenues by which relatives of deceased persons who are excluded from inheritance by the individualisation of land rights 'grab' inheritable land from the heirs under state law. This 'property grabbing' takes place against the backdrop of conflicting customary law and Western law concepts of succession and inheritance.

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