Answer to a question from a reader

Where can I get a PTO certificate for my rural stand?

The short answer

You need to approach the traditional leader in the area where you live.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I am a government employee. Because I have a stand in a rural area, my employer has asked me to provide a Permission to Occupy (PTO) certificate so that I may qualify for housing allowance. Where can I get a PTO certificate?

The long answer

It may not be completely straightforward, as l will explain below, because the government decided in 1999 that the tribal authorities should stop issuing them and should issue a more secure right like ownership with a title. This is because the PTOs do not transfer actual ownership of the property to the person occupying the land and cannot be registered at the Deeds Office, meaning that the person had no title deed, which is the document that gives you legal ownership. 

What subsequently happened in KwaZulu-Natal was that, instead of issuing more secure rights, the Ingonyama Trust Board started converting these PTOs into rentals, which meant that people who had always lived on their properties for free had to start paying rent to the Ingonyama Trust. People were naturally very unhappy about this and it was eventually taken to court by CASAC, an organisation set up to defend the Constitution, on their behalf.

Fast forward to the present when the High Court in Pietermaritzburg found in June 2021 that it was illegal and unconstitutional for the Ingonyama Trust Board to convert PTOs into rentals and that the money had to be repaid to the people. In that case, the Judge instructed that: 

Until such time as the Minister may implement an alternative system of recording customary and other informal rights to land of persons and communities residing in Trust-held land:

5.1      the Minister is directed to ensure that the administrative capacity necessary to implement chapter XI of the KwaZulu Land Affairs Act 11 of 1992 and the KwaZulu Land Affairs (Permission to Occupy) Regulations is reinstated forthwith

That means that PTOs are still valid, and must still be issued by the tribal authorities until such time as a new system of giving rural people more secure rights is put into place.

So, in the first place, you would need to approach the traditional leader in the area where you have your rural stand and ask what the procedure is to get a PTO certificate for your stand. 

Depending on where you live there might be different ways of getting the PTO certificate. For example, previously in KwaZulu-Natal, the traditional leader would give you a written Recommendation to the KZN Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) department, as well as a site inspection certificate and a sketch of the site. All these documents would have to be submitted to KZN COGTA, which would then issue the PTO.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Sept. 28, 2021, 4:07 p.m.

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