Bengwenyama Minerals (Pty) Ltd v Genorah Resources (Pty) Ltd: Johan Froneman, the Transformation of Property Law and the Virtue of Small Things




property law, democratisation, transformation;, "expropriation without compensation", state custodianship of land, ownership


In this article in honour of Justice Johan Froneman, I consider an early judgment of his on the Constitutional Court, Bengwenyama Minerals (Pty) Ltd v Genorah Resources (Pty) Ltd 2011 4 SA 113 (CC). I read the case as an important property law judgment, showing already at an early stage in the Court's jurisprudence strong traces of a transformative vision of property law developed by Van der Walt, Ngcukaitobi and Wilson, among others that I describe as a democratised property law. I show how the three pillars of this approach (the move from objects to objectives; the opening up of the canon of recognised property interests; and the move from property to propriety) all feature in Froneman J's Bengwenyama judgment. On this basis I then conclude by making the point that real transformation of property law derives much more from the kinds of "small moves" made by Froneman J in Bengwenyama than from the grand-scale solutions such as "expropriation without compensation" or state custodianship of land that have dominated political imagination over the past several years.


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Author Biography

Danie Brand, University of the Free State

Professor and Director, Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State, South Africa.




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Case law

Albutt v Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation 2010 3 SA 293 (CC)

Baleni v Minister of Mineral Resources 2019 2 SA 453 (GP)

Bengwenyama Minerals (Pty) Ltd v Genorah Resources (Pty) Ltd 2011 4 SA 113 (CC)

Billiton Aluminium SA Ltd t/a Hillside Aluminium v Khanyile 2010 5 BCLR 422 (CC)

Daniels v Scribante 2017 4 SA 341 (CC)

Maledu v Itereleng Bakgatla Mineral Resources (Pty) Limited 2019 2 SA 1 (CC)

Sustaining the Wild Coast NPC v Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy 2022 6 SA 589 (ECMk)


Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act 31 of 1996

Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002

Internet sources

Department of Rural Development and Land Reform 2013 State Land Lease and Disposal Policy accessed 4 August 2022

Department of Rural Development and Land Reform Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy accessed 4 December 2022

Economic Freedom Fighters 2021 State Custodianship of Land is the Only Rational Approach to Expropriation without Compensation: The Economic Freedom Fighters' Position accessed 4 August 2022

Mokoena S 2018 National Assembly Debates Motion on Land Expropriation accessed 5 November 2023



How to Cite

Brand, D. (2024). Bengwenyama Minerals (Pty) Ltd v Genorah Resources (Pty) Ltd: Johan Froneman, the Transformation of Property Law and the Virtue of Small Things. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 27, (Published on 11 June 2024) pp 1–22.



Special Edition: A Tribute to Justice Froneman

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