CAPE TOWN– British Prime Minister Theresa May says the United Kingdom has for some time supported land reform in South Africa as it is a process carried out in a legal, transparent and democratic manner.

She said this in response to a question by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) at a business forum event in Cape Town Tuesday, ahead of meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Presidential headquarters in Tuynhuys.

Her remarks came not long after United States President Donald Trump posted a tweet over South Africa’s land reform programme last week, a tweet that South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation has since described as unfortunate.

The UK has for some time now supported land reform. Land reform that is legal, that is transparent, that is generated through a democratic process, May said.

She went on to say that South Africa’s land reform programme was an issue that I raised and discussed with President Ramaphosa when he was in London earlier this year. I’ll be talking about it with him later today.

The Prime Minister said that during those discussions, President Ramaphosa had briefed her about South Africa’s approach to the talks, which she welcomed. She reportedly went on to say that the support was on condition that there will be no land grabs during the process.

Her remarks come after South African International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said at a media briefing on Monday that the department had decided not to sit back and allow lobby groups to go around the world spreading false information about South Africa’s land reform.

She also said Pretoria had indicated to the ChargA d’ Affaires of the US Embassy here that what it had reported was “unfortunate and …. was based on information that was not verified, adding that she wished they had contacted South Africa first to clarify the information.

Meanwhile, shortly before their bilateral talks, the Prime Minister handed over the ship’s bell from the SS Mendi, which sank in 1917 carrying more than 600 members of the South African Native Labour Corps, who perished in the World War I incident.

She said later during a briefing for journalists: I was honoured today to hand over to you and to the people of South Africa the ship’s bell from the SS Mendi and to commemorate the troops who lost their lives when the ship sank in the English Channel over a century ago, she said, adding that Britain will be forever grateful for their sacrifice.

In response, the President said: Please accept our gratitude and appreciation for this gesture, which honours the memory and the sacrifices of all those who perished so far away from their homes and loved ones.