Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade
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Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Robert Kirkwood Paterson

This Handbook offers a collection of original writings by leading scholars and practitioners in the exciting, rapidly developing field of cultural heritage law. The detailed essays are the product of a multi-year project of the Committee on Cultural Heritage Law of the International Law Association.
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Chapter 16: South Africa

Margaret Beukes


With the introduction of the new democratic dispensation via the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 the country also experienced a transformation of the laws relating to the protection/preservation, management and nurturing of its cultural property. Before an analysis of the new cultural property regime, with a specific emphasis on legislation pertaining to export and import control measures, is undertaken, a brief overview of cultural protection legislative provisions pre-1996 is provided to set the scene. Legislation relating to the protection of cultural property ('heritage resources' in present-day South African terminology) dates from 1910, the year after the Union of South Africa was formed under British Dominium (on 31-05-1910 to be exact). The first such Act, with its politically incorrect title, was the Bushman-Relics Protection Act 22 of 1911. The protection provided for in the 1911 Act was later broadened by the National and Historical Monuments Act 6 of 1923 to areas of land with unique/distinguishing scenery, flora or fauna. Protection was also afforded to objects of historical or scientific interest and a commission was established for the preservation of natural or historical monuments. In 1934 the Natural and Historical Monuments, Relics and Antiques Act 4 of 1934 consolidated the earlier legislation. The 1934 Act was repealed in its entirety and replaced by the National Monuments Act 28 of 1969 - to reflect the political reality of South Africa becoming a republic - the Republic of South Africa - on 31 May 1961.

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