In a matter that recently came before the Supreme Court of Appeal, the promulgation of municipal by-laws by 2 municipalities in Mpumalanga requiring the owner of a property to obtain a SPLUMA certificate over and above the usual rates clearance certificate, came under fire.
SPLUMA, or Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013, is national legislation which provides "a framework for spatial planning and land-use management in South Africa" and promotes "greater consistency and uniformity in the application procedures and decision-making by authorities responsible for land use decisions". It is on the strength of this legislation that municipalities exercise their municipal planning as set out in municipal by-laws.
In this appeal matter, 5 large mining companies took the Govan Mbeki and Emalahleni Municipalities to court to declare the portion of their by-laws that required sellers to obtain a SPLUMA certificate from these municipalities confirming all spatial planning, land-use management and building regulation conditions or approvals for the property to be transferred had been complied with, invalid.
The SCA confirmed that, as was determined by the Mpumalanga High Court, these by-laws were in conflict with both the Constitutional right to municipal executive authority (as they fall outside the scope of powers of local government) and section 118 of the Municipal Services Act.
It highlighted the fact that the transfer of a property is expressly regulated by the Deeds Registries Act through the various Deeds Offices across the country.
The by-laws were, as a result, declared invalid.
CASE INFORMATION: Govan Mbeki Local Municiplity and Another v Glencore Operations South Africa (Pty) Ltd and Others (334/2021 and 338/2021)  ZASCA 93 (17 June 2022)
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