File image: WhatsApp icon. (Independent UK).

PARLIAMENT - The parliamentary committee set up to probe whether South Africa's Constitution must be amended to allow that land be expropriated without compensation on Wednesday said was shocked at the latest round of social media messages attempting to "undermine its work".

In a statement the joint Constitutional Review Committee said it had been alerted to a Whatsapp message doing the rounds claiming that non-South African citizens are set to lose their right to own land.

 “We are definitely not targeting foreigners in South Africa," said committee co-chairman Lewis Nzimande.

"This type of fake news can lead to all sorts of criminality. It can also lead to a downturn in foreign investment, which is critical for our development. At this point, we are just establishing whether Section 25 of the Constitution is in need of amendment."

The message being circulated, the statement said, informs people the land they own would be seized by the State and leased it back for 25 years at a "price tag". 

It encourages citizens to "take action before it is too late". 

Nzimande's co-chair Vincent Smith rubbished the claims contained in the message.

“No mechanism, criteria or conditionality has been established for land that is to be expropriated. That is all part of what we are currently looking into. We would like to discourage these types of messages that create confusion and fear in our people."

The public consulation process is currently underway with interested parties able to make written submissions to MPs until June 15. Following this the committee will hold public hearings in all nine provinces.

African News Agency/ANA