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Real estate in South Africa

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

The highly capable real estate group at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr is praised as ‘an excellent all round team’ and ‘a one-stop legal practice’, handling financings and the development of major residential, commercial and retail property, especially regarding long-term leases. The team also has recognised strength in the REIT sector. Commercial real estate expert Muhammad Gattoo  has led the team since August 2020 after taking over from previous head John Webber , a ‘top commercial property lawyer‘ who continues to practice as part of the team. Werner de Waal is a name of note in the transaction arena, alongside his reputable team members Lucia ErasmusWilliam Midgley and Simone Franks .

Practice head(s):

Muhammad Gattoo


‘As a REIT which is constantly transacting, we require a property legal team that understands all aspects relating to the property transaction. CDH has an excellent all round team with John Webber being a star player.’

‘The one-stop legal practice is diverse with many areas of specialisation which assists in resolving matters in-house. They are professional legal practitioners who provide excellent client services. They conducted a number of virtual workshops during lockdown on a range of topics that businesses were battling to cope with that were pandemic related and availed themselves to provide any follow up advice in this regard.’

‘The stand-out partner is Simone Franks. She is very professional and takes a personal interest in every transaction referred to her. She is very methodical and pays great attention to detail. She is flexible and compassionate especially with senior or infirm clients and will go out of her way to accommodate them. She appreciates the need to expedite the registration of property transactions as efficiently and cost effectively as possible and excels at everything she does.’

‘Werner De Waal is an incredible problem-solver, extremely dedicated and visibly a market-leading professional in the field/s he specializes in. We are continually impressed by the results he produces and his work ethic is truly inspiring. He undeniably sets the standard which other senior legal professionals in competing corporate firms should strive to achieve.’

‘Samantha Kelly’s communication skills are perfect, always keeping the customer updated. Also very efficient and fast with her outputs’

‘In my experience John Webber is SA’s top commercial property lawyer. he is a deep understanding of property fundamentals and he has outstanding negotiating skills. he has on several occasions provided legal advice to my company which changed the transactions in our favour. he is always available and thinks out of the box.’

‘Muhammad and the conveyancing team are always available to assist with complicated legal structures. His experience and expertise are invaluable. He has become a trusted partner to our institution.’

‘Dr. Janke Strydom’s ability to take on highly complex corporate real estate transactions with ease, with the utmost professionalism whilst paying incredible intention to detail is not unnoticed. Her work is always concluded at a very high standard and we are always awestruck by the impressive results she produces in providing unparalleled service. She plays a correspondingly crucial role in the CDH team.’

Key clients

Pinaroux International Holdco

Sun International

Reatile Group and the Ideas Fund managed by AIIM- Old Mutual


Blue Crane Breeze

Texton Property Fund

Century Property Developments

Proud Heritage Properties 118

Rawson Developers


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Mabula Share Block

Sun International

Reatile Group

Commercial Dynamics


Tsogo Sun Casinos

HCI Monte Precinct

Abbeydale Invest

Setso Property Fund

Sable Place Properties


King Air

Game Camp

Pioneer Foods

Work highlights

  • Advising Nedbank’s Corporate Investment Banking division on the registration of mortgage bonds over the property portfolio of Khula Sizwe Property for the sum of ZAR2.84 bn.
  • Representing Pinaroux International Holdco in its mixed use ZAR3.26bn development of “De Zandt” along the Onrus River outside of Hermanus in the Western Cape.
  • Represented the Reatile Group and the Ideas Fund in its ZAR4.15bn acquisition of 30% of Sasol’s stake in the Republic of Mozambique Pipeline Investment.


ENSafrica advises major financial services and banking and corporate clients across the whole spectrum of real estate matters in South Africa and elsewhere in the continent. Its capabilities includes advising on land claims by communities and conducting high-value transactions, as well as negotiating term sheets, auditing lease agreements and drafting security documentation. Andrew Bembridge is head of the department with extensive expertise in commercial property transactions, and he is supported by the reputable Fritz Schulz  and Len Vorster.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Bembridge


‘Client centric approach, excellent communication and good knowledge sharing.’

‘Hands-on, proactive approach and keeps the client informed of the process.’

‘Excellent property knowledge and solution focussed.’

Key clients

eXp World Holding Inc.

Brenthurst Retirement Management

Zwelabantu Dube Community Property Association

Thornybush Nature Reserve

University of the Witwatersrand

Buffaloland Safaris

Sabi Private Game Reserve

Autumn Storm Investment 379 Pty

Tricolt Property Developer CC







Klein Karoo and Friends Pty Ltd

First National Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising eXp on its expansion into South Africa and in particular to amend their contractor agreements and policies and procedures to comply with South African law.
  • Advised Colgate on the restructuring of commercial and industrial properties.
  • Advising Trafigura, Exarro and Overlooked on the registration of various mortgage bonds over various properties and notarial bonds, to the value of approximately USD27m each.

Webber Wentzel

Sulani Jooste leads the real estate department in Cape Town at Webber Wentzel, whilst Mark McIntosh leads the Johannesburg practice group. The firm has a wide-ranging client roster, from individuals to developers, and multi-national corporates to private and institutional investors, ranging across industries such as retail, energy, construction, mining and hospitality and leisure. The team’s offering spans the entire real estate life cycle, including acquisition, development, financing, letting and disposal. In team development news, Venashrie Mannar has been promoted to partner.

Practice head(s):

Sulani Jooste

Other key lawyers:

Mark McIntosh; Venashrie Mannar


‘The team provides value-added service. They apply themselves to each instruction and treat each case individually enough to provide additional advice in collaboration with other experts in the firm to provide the best value for clients. We can trust that we are receiving sound counsel.’

‘The individuals I have worked with focus on building relationships with us as their client and ensure we are kept updated consistently on instructions. The level of professionalism and the desire to add value is appreciated.’

‘The team is very knowledgable and experienced in real estate matters. The depth of experience in Sectional Title Act issues, conveyancing and property law makes them dependable.’

‘Mark McIntosh has a good depth of knowledge and experience. Very professional and great people skills.

‘Venashrie Mannar is persistent and experienced.’

Key clients

Investec Bank

Anglo Operations South Africa

2Degrees Properties

Peermont Global

Redefine Properties

Rustenburg Platinum Mines


Absa Bank

Hosken Consolidated Investments

Work highlights

  • Advised ABSA Bank Limited on the drafting and registration of all loan and bond documents required for the acquisition of a shopping mall by Amrichprop 2 Properties and Amrichprop 8 Properties.

Werksmans Attorneys

The real estate team at Werksmans Attorneys spans across three offices in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Johannesburg, and represents major South African property developers and financial institutions on a broad range of matters. These include property development, M&A, disposals in the hotel and leisure sector, and transactions involving retail and commercial property. Also of note is the department’s significant involvement in the creation of Section 12J Investment structures. Hendrik Kotze  in Stellenbosch and Fátima Rodrigues in Johannesburg jointly lead the practice.

Key clients

ABSA Capital

Berman Bros. Property Developers

Bigen Africa Project Management

Business Partners

Castle Estates

CRI Eagle Investments


Hirt and Carter

Intaprop Property Development and Investment


Investec Bank

Investec Property Fund

Investec Property

National Research Foundation


New Property Ventures

Omnigro Property Developers


Oxford Parks

Pepkor Holdings

Pioneer Limited and Quantum Food Holdings

Redefine Properties

Redford Advisory Services

RMB Private Bank


Shoprite Holdings

The Standard Bank of South Africa

Standard Bank Properties

Steyn City Properties

The Capital Group Apartments and Hotels

V&A Waterfront Holdings

Vantage Property Developers

Waterfall Management Company

West Property Fund

Westbrooke 2018 Stac

Westbrooke Alternative Asset Management

Westbrooke ALTO

Westbrooke Capital Hospitality

Westbrooke Capital Partners

Westbrooke 2019 Stac

Work highlights

  • Advising Castle Estates on the proposed new large scale mixed use development along the West Coast (Vredenburg/ Saladanah Bay Municipality district).
  • Assisted West Property Fund in all aspects of the establishment of this South African property fund and recently assisted with the establishment of their UK property fund.
  • Advised Investec Bank Limited on its acquisition of all of the shares in Omwieco, the owner of a large scale mixed use property development

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP

Allen & Overy (South Africa) LLP ‘s real estate department has a multi-disciplinary approach and with French, Portuguese and Chinese-speaking lawyers, it can handle cross-border mandates and global clients. Particular focuses of the practice are financings and property-related transactions. Counsel Nick Grootes is chair of the group with considerable experience in banking and finance, and is supported by Cynthia Venter. Previous managing partner Lionel Shawe left the firm to join White & Case LLP in April 2021.

Practice head(s):

Nick Grootes

Other key lawyers:

Cynthia Venter

Key clients

Absa Bank

The Standard Bank of South Africa

Respublica Student Living Proprietary

Liberty Two Degrees

FirstRand Bank


Investec Bank

Standard Chartered Bank

Emira Property Fund

Work highlights

  • Advising the Standard Bank of South Africa, Stanbic Bank Ghana, Stanbic IBTC Bank, FirstRand Bank and RMB International Ltd on the aggregate debt restructuring of the development and term debt facilities previously made available to indirect subsidiaries of Lango Real Estate.
  • Acting for FirstRand Bank and Nedbank in relation to the implementation of a new financing and security structure for Respublica Student Living Proprietary Limited, the restructuring the existing facilities, the making available of the initial facilities in an aggregate amount of up to approximately ZAR885.5m to fund amongst others the acquisition by RSL of properties from Redefine Properties and Redefine’s exit as shareholder of RSL and the vendor financing in an amount of up to ZAR280m made available by Redefine to RSL on a back ranking basis.
  • Acted for Standard Chartered Bank as arranger, lender and facility agent for a funding structure for Growthpoint Properties Limited in connection with an initial revolving credit facility of ZAR750m.


At BowmansCraig Schafer  leads a multi-disciplinary practice, which comprises lawyers from the firm’s M&A, competition, construction, dispute resolution and tax teams. The group’s client roster includes leading African financiers, developers, and asset managers on acquisitions, development projects and restructuring finance mandates on commercial, industrial and retail property. Additionally, negotiating and structuring development lease agreements for landlords and tenants is within the team’s capabilities. Julia Power and Samantha Saffy  are also of note in the real estate space.

Practice head(s):

Craig Schafer

Other key lawyers:

Julia Power; Samantha Saffy


‘Bowmans is a very professional firm in their approach not just in communication and presentation, but also provides top quality work. Very good communication skills and always providing regular updates regarding the status of pending mortgage bond registrations. The team is very quick and efficient, and they even drive out to clients far in the countryside to get documentation signed. Bowmans has a countrywide presence in South Africa, especially in Cape Town and Stellenbosch, which makes it very convenient for clients to sign mortgage bond documentation.’

‘The Bowman’s team feels like an extension of a my team. Bowmans ranks top in terms of level of service and fees charged.’

‘The individuals we’ve dealt with give 100% attention to detail.’

‘Samantha Saffy from Bowmans would give bond structuring advice whereas other firms would not bother to do so. She also picks up on errors made with previous mortgage bond registrations and then corrects it as part of the fee quoted. Their fees are always very competitive.’

‘The team sets itself apart from other law firms in the following aspects: professionalism, responsiveness, understanding both lender and borrower needs, appreciating the asset class and its nuances, advising on structural considerations and shortcomings that might not be entailed in a term sheet.’

‘Craig Schafer has deep asset class knowledge and reliable work which is second to none.’

‘Julia Power is very professional and responsive; a trusted advisor.’

Key clients

African Rainbow Minerals

Assmang Proprietary

Massmart Group Holdings

Masstores Proprietary

FirstRand Bank

Harmony Gold Mining Company

Isanti Glass 1 Proprietary

Absa Bank

NTT Global Data Centers EMEA

West Property Fund

FirstRand Bank

Sanlam Life Insurance

FirstRand Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised RMB regarding the development and term loan funding provided to the two separate borrowing entities to develop a new head office and centralised manufacturing facility for the local subsidiary of ALPLA Holdings GmBH.
  • Advised Growthpoint Healthcare Property Holdings Proprietary Limited on a transaction regarding the sale and transfer of a newly developed spinal hospital operated by Cintocare to our Growthpoint Healthcare Property Holdings.
  • Advised Harmony Gold Mining Company on the acquisition of certain shares and mining assets and liabilities from AngloGold Ashanti Limited, including over 1600 farm and residential properties, the Mponeng mine and its associated assets and liabilities, the Tau Tona and Savuka mines and associated rock-dump and tailings storage facility reclamation sites, mine rehabilitation and closure activities located in the West Wits region and their associated assets and liabilities.

Glyn Marais

Real estate is a key focus at Glyn Marais, with the team handling a vast range of transactions and developments across the commercial, retail, industrial, residential, leisure and health care sectors. Work of particular note includes its ability to handle specialised property funding schemes, in addition to the group’s contribution towards creating the variation loan structure. Johannesburg-based Brian Frank leads the team with the support of real estate transaction specialist Francois Marais; Frank has substantial experience in listing property funds on the JSE.

Practice head(s):

Brian Frank

Other key lawyers:

Francois Marais


‘The team are very efficient and have the depth and associations to deal with all my needs.’

‘The individuals are not just 9 to 5 workers; they will assist after hours and on weekends when most of my contracts happen.’

‘The team is very knowledgeable and flexible in the real estate sector. We have a very good working relationship with the team.’

‘The knowledge, experience and assistance of Francois Marais is worth noting. We are extremely grateful for his contribution to the growth of our company.’

Key clients

Growthpoint Properties

Johannesburg Land Company

V & A Waterfront Holdings

One and Only Cape Town

Stadium Management SA

Accelerate Property Fund

Alchemy Property Management Services

Development and Projects

Eye of Africa Developments

Sector Five Trading 112

Danaug Investments

Azrapart Property

African Kingdom Holdings

Texton Property Fund


Work highlights

  • Advising a client on a transaction to combine and toequalise two parties’ rights and interests in a combined letting enterprise.
  • Advising a client on the establishment of a healthcare fund including client’s involvement in the management company and its involvement as an investor of the fund.
  • Advising a client on the sectionalisation of a major shopping centre.

Lawtons Africa

Property development expert Penny Chenery leads the real estate team at Lawtons Africa, which is adept in developments and regeneration projects, acquisitions and real estate finance, in addition to handling planning matters, the transfer of property ownership and due diligence. The practice has a particular focus on clients in the regulated sectors, such as energy, infrastructure, insurance and life sciences. Melissa Leibowitz is a key name in acting for financial institutions.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chenery

Other key lawyers:

Melissa Leibowitz

Key clients

Imperial Group

Enate Properties 4

Centre of the Sun Properties

Silicon Smelters

The Truzen 89 trust

Clarion Investments 49