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Professor Karin Van Marle
University of the Free State
Professor Danie Brand
University of the Free State

Maria Mampies, a farm worker, lived and worked her entire life on three farms: Boplaas, Middelplaas and Onderplaas. Although separate cadastral units, the farms were used and regarded as one. While Ms Mampies’ house was on Onderplaas, she and her family had unrestricted access to the other farms and always buried their dead on Middelplaas. In 1991 the three farms were split up and Middelplaas and Boplaas sold off. Maria Mampies remained living on Onderplaas. When a close relative passed away, she wanted to bury her on Middelplaas. Middelplaas’ new owner objected, arguing that Ms Mampies’ statutory tenure rights, including her the right to bury her dead, apply only to the farm on which she has her house (Onderplaas) and not to Middelplaas. The Supreme Court of Appeal in Sandvliet Boerdery (Pty) Ltd v Maria Mampies rejected the understanding of space as simply a geographical notion underlying this argument and instead confirmed Ms Mampies’ right to bury her family where she always had.

In our paper, we will explore the possible ways in which this judgment engages with notions of space as relation, social and cultural/imaginary rather than only material; understandings of living as inhabitance rather than only habitat (Lefevbre); and ways to make sense of the multiple meanings of home and space for both the living, the living dead and the yet to be born.

Karin van Marle is professor in the Department of Public Law at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where she teaches legal philosophy and interpretation. Her research falls within law and the humanities and involves critical theory, legal philosophy and jurisprudence. Her work engages the crisis of modernity and a rethinking of legal theory along lines of fragility, finitude and a ‘giving up of certitudes’. She is an ethical feminist and her research and writing are inspired by and embedded in feminist theory.

Danie Brand is the director of the Free State Center for Human Rights at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He teaches and does research in constitutional law and theory, with a focus on the relationship between law and poverty. He runs a public interest legal practice, litigating in housing and land disputes.

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