Cape Town - 100813 - National Assembly at Parliament in Cape Town - Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Parliament - Controversial draft legislation to re-open the land restitution process moved a step closer to becoming law this week when it was passed by the National Council of Provinces.

The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill sets a new deadline for land claims to December 31, 2018. The previous deadline was December 31, 1998.

The measure was passed by the National Assembly last month, following heated debate. All that remains now is for President Jacob Zuma to sign the bill into law.

In a statement on Thursday, the rural development and land reform department welcomed the bill's passage through the NCOP.

“The re-opening of lodgement of claims will take place once amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 have been signed into law by the president.”

It advised prospective claimants that claims would only be accepted once this had been done.

“The department also wants to emphasise that application forms for lodging claims will be distributed free of charge to all qualifying South Africans.

“The public is therefore warned against individuals who approach prospective claimants offering to assist with the lodging of land claims and charging them a fee,” it said.