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Land ownership and tenure [Part 1]

By: Poiya Isaac Lagu, (LLM).

The purpose of this Article is to acquire knowledge about the rights, interests, liabilities attached to land and create awareness for land conveyance. It is also relevant for readers and researchers. There has been a question throughout from 2005 up to date ‘who owns land’ in the Republic of South Sudan? Land [noun] means; “Those parts of the surface of the earth that are capable in law of being owned and are within the Courts’ jurisdiction”. And in Latin, I quote; Quicquid Plantatur Solo Cedit; in English meaning “Chattels fixed to the land becomes part of it and shall be treated as land”. Land owner means; the person who owns the land or plot or piece of land and land tenure means in my opinion; the legal right to live in the land or plot or the period of time to use a piece of land or occupy the same.

My answer to the aforesaid question is; “All land is owned by the people of South Sudan and its usage shall be regulated by the government in accordance with the provisions of this Constitutions and the laws” pursuant to article 170 (1) of the 2011, transitional Constitution as amended read together with Section 7 (1) of Land Act, 2009. And in my opinion, the people here means; the people of that particular locality or Community in whom the authority is vested where the land or plot is situated. So, if that particular land belongs to the people of that particular locality or Community per se why should you from another locality or Community complaint or form a Committee in another’s locality to allot or issue plots or land deeds, what is the source of your authority? You need to read the laws carefully. Well, you have the right as a South Sudanese to be allotted land or plot in another Community by that Authority in accordance with the laws if you are residing in that Community or locality. Don’t point fingers against another, obey the laws and follow the right procedures for the allotment of land or plots.

However, Ownership of land carries with it rights to what is below the surface and control of the air space above. Land owners do not enjoy rights over the adjacent air space to an unlimited height up to the Heaven and below up to the depth of the Earth. The maxim of up to the Heaven is incapable of balancing the rights of the public. Rights of land owners are restricted to set a height as it’s reasonably necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of their land and structure upon it and that above, that height, the land owner has no greater right in the air space than any other member of the public. And rights relating to minerals are derived for national interest. Any mineral not extracted belongs to the national government, its exploration takes into account the interest of the land owners, land owners may be compensated for their land or other development on just terms arising from acquisition or development of land in their areas in the public interest. And the local Community enjoying rights in land shall be consulted in decisions that may affect their rights in land and resources throughout the Republic of South Sudan.

Have you taken any step to register your land or plot with the land registrar? Especially; at 3 K-South, Gudele, Nyakuron West, Juba Na-bari and                                     Hai Matar? While a Certificate of title deed is a document issued by the land registrar to the proprietor of a registered land as proof of His or Her ownership of it. It is the right time that; you should register your land or plot, demarcate and register your customary land of your Communities too. Land as a real property is static, valuable and it is immovable. In light with article (28) of 2011, transitional Constitution of South Sudan as amended read together with Section 8 (1) of the Land Act, 2009, “Every person shall have the right to acquire or own property as regulated by law”. But, there is a difference between real property and personal properties. Real property – thus land is attached to “real actions” of return while personal properties are to “personal actions” for return and payment for the value- thus ownership. The Writer is a practicing Advocate & Commissioner for Oaths,                                           Tel: +211924086970, Email; poiyaisaaclagu@gmail.com, Juba                                     

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