Cadastral surveys are reserved exclusively for professional land surveyors in accordance with the Land Survey Act (Act 8 of 1997) and the regulations promulgated there under. The various categories of surveyors are well defined in the Geomatics Profession Act (Act 19 of 2013) (Previously the PLATO Act, number 40 of 1940) and register is kept by the registrar

Cadastral surveys entail the survey of land and deals with the laws and rights in and over land that relate to boundaries. The three main types of cadastral surveys are:

• Subdivision surveys

• Consolidation of land

• Creation of servitude’s

South Africa has a rich survey history, dating back to the very first settlers in 1657 with the arrival of the Dutch East India Company that saw the Cape of Good Hope as a strategic location on their trade route to India and the East. A rather amusing story about the first surveys carried out in South Africa is captured in an article written by Mr. Richard Birkett (Professional Land Surveyor, Deputy Surveyor-General: PMB 2003) :


One of the first recorded surveyors that arrived with Mr Van Riebeeck in the Cape was Peter Potter. I was told how the local land surveyor used to send Ou Klaas on a horse and told him to turn right whenever he heard a rifle shot. The landowner’s assistant would then build a beacon at the bend while Klaas rode along the next boundary. The trouble was that the land surveyor was often fond of a touch of brandy and in the afternoon, he would forget to fire the gun. The resultant diagram would be framed in his office and he spent more time drawing the true north pointer than checking the accuracy of the diagram. The results of such surveys, especially in the Cape, are very serious overlaps.”


Fortunately South African law favours the physical position of a beacon in the ground as opposed to the mathematical position and a sophisticated system of record keeping and strict survey procedures that form the essentials of cadastral surveying has been developed over the years to allow future Land Surveyors to recreate old surveys and replace missing property beacons in their most likely positions and resolve boundary disputes.

It is important to understand ones rights when it comes to land and land ownership, as the ownership of land directly relates to security of tenure and, in most cases, is the single biggest investment an individual will ever make in their lifetime.

Intertwined within our constitution the basic rights over land are:


The ownership of land in South Africa allows a person the greatest rights over land, including the right to:

  • Use it to its full potential
  • Dispose it or sell it
  • Use it as security for a loan
  • Alienate it and exclude its use by others


Land may be owned by one individual and leased to another. This lease may be a short term lease or a long term lease. A long term lease is a real right and is registered in the deeds office if the lease is longer than 10 years. The rights of a long term lease are very similar to those of ownership and a portion of land can be subdivided and registered as a long term lease.


Servitude’s make provision for the benefit of land by one person over another person’s land. There are two types of servitude’s:


A servitude which operates in favor of the owner of a piece of land and which cannot be separated from that land for example a right of way


A servitude in favour of a person or body who need not own any land. This servitude is not linked in perpetuity to that land, but rather to a person and will lapse on the demise of that person.

Sub Surface Rights:

The rights to minerals on a property may be included in the ownership of the property, or may be completely separate from the ownership of the land. Generally the ownership of land does not automatically include the right to minerals, and therefore special application has to be applied for to extract any minerals from the land.

For more information please see  The Cadastral System in South Africa