Should the Alienation of Land Act 68 of 1981 be amended to Address Homelessness? Sarrahwitz v Maritz 2015 8 BCLR 925 (CC)

Anri Heyns, Boitumelo Mmusinyane


The article critically evaluates the decision of the Constitutional Court to resort to the amendment of the Alienation of Land Act in order to protect a vulnerable purchaser of property against homelessness. It is argued that the origins and purpose of the said Act should have been considered by the Constitutional Court. Such consideration shows that the Act protects against a specific vulnerability which an instalment sale purchaser faces and deals with the right to take transfer. This vulnerability is not necessarily homelessness and is it, therefore, questioned whether the Act can be applied to give effect to the section 26 of the Constitution. The article further argues that an alternative solution could have been to develop, in line with constitutional values, the common law provision which provides the trustee of the insolvent estate with the discretion to cancel a sale agreement pertaining to property sold but not yet transferred, as it is this provision which created the risk of homelessness in this instance. It is, however, submitted, that the minority judgment’s reliance on the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, provided the best solution in this instance. 


Alienation of Land Act; right to obtain transfer of land; instalment sale agreement; s 25(1) of the Constitution; Insolvency; common law – transfer of property from insolvent estate; development of common law;section 39(2) of the Constitution;Homelessness

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Alienation of Land Act 68 of 1981

Community Development Act 3 of 1966

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996

Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008

Contracts of Sale of Land Act 71 of 1969

Formalities in Respect of Contracts of Sale of Land Act of 71 of 1969

General Law Amendment Act 68 of 1957

Hire Purchase Act 36 of 1942

Housing Act 107 of 1997

Housing Act 4 of 1966

Insolvency Act 24 of 1936

Insolvency Act 39 of 1916

Long Term Insurance Act 52 of 1998

National Credit Act 34 of 2005

Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998

Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000

Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000

Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999

Sale of Land on Instalments Act 72 of 1971

Short Term Insurance Act 53 of 1998

Transfer Duty Act 40 of 1949

Government publications

Development Schemes Bill GN 1964 in GG 5745 of 23 September 1977

Internet sources

De Vynck D “Rode’s South African Property Trends 2003-2008” June 2003 chapter 12 available at accessed on 9 May 2016.

List of abbreviations

CC Constitutional Court

HC High Court

PIE Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998

SAJHR South African Journal of Human Rights

SALJ South African Law Journal



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