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UKZN Press

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Book launch – Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa

A title deed = tenure security. Or does it?

This book challenges this simple equation and its apparently self-evident assumptions. It argues that two very different property paradigms characterise South Africa.

The first is the dominant paradigm of private property, referred to as an ‘edifice’, against which all other property regimes are measured and ranked. However, the majority of South Africans gain access to land and housing through very different processes, which this book calls social or off-register tenures. These tenures are poorly understood, a gap Untitled aims to address.

The book reveals that ‘informal’ and customary property systems can be well organised, often providing substantial tenure security, but lack official recognition and support. This makes them difficult to service and vulnerable to elite capture.

Policy interventions usually aim to formalise these arrangements by issuing title deeds. The case studies in this book, which span both rural and urban contexts in South Africa, examine these interventions and the unintended consequences they often give rise to. Interventions based on an understanding of locally embedded property relations are more likely to succeed than those that attempt to transform them into registered tenures. However, emerging practices hit intractable obstacles associated with the ‘edifice’, which only a substantial transformation of the legal paradigms can overcome.

Donna Hornby is an independent critical researcher for non-governmental organisations on rural land, tenure and agricultural issues.
Rosalie Kingwill is an independent policy and academic researcher specialising in land tenure and property rights.
Lauren Royston is a development planner and researcher who works on tenure security in southern Africa with a range of organisations.
Ben Cousins holds a DST/NRF chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 28 June 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge, 71 Roeland Street, Cape Town | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Philile Ntuli
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425

    Book Details

    • Untitled: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, Ben Cousins
      EAN: 9781869143503
      Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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