Image Credit: www.da-abroad.org

There’s finally hope on the horizon for many thousands of South Africans around the world who inadvertently lost their SA citizenship when they applied for another country’s passport… without knowing they had to request permission from the SA government first and receive a Letter of Retention (which at the moment is not even possible due to the service being closed!). UPDATE: 11 May 2021: The court yesterday reserved judgment in the case for South Africans who have lost their citizenship.

That’s been the case since 1995 and has led to heartache, frustration, untold paperwork and outrage. But, after a lengthy period of gathering evidence, the DA Abroad has taken the issue on board and will be taking it all the way to court.

In a joint statement today, Dr Rory Jubber (DA Abroad Leader) and Adrian Roos (DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Home Affairs) announced that the case will be heard in the Gauteng Division of the High Court on 10 May, bringing South Africans who were unfairly stripped of their citizenship one stop closer to justice.

The statement explains: “Since 1995 South African citizens have been effectively stripped of their citizenship, often without any knowledge that this has occurred, due to Section 6(1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995 stating that a citizen shall cease to be a South African citizen if he or she by some voluntary and formal act, other than marriage, acquires the citizenship or nationality of a country other than South Africa.

“Currently, the only recourse that South Africans have to avoid this when applying for an additional citizenship, is to apply to the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, to allow them to retain their South African citizenship. If a citizen does not apply for retention of citizenship and proceeds with the application for the citizenship of another country, then they are deprived of their South African citizenship.

“This is the case even if the citizen does not know the relevant arcane section of the Citizenship Act,” says the DA.

However that service currently remains CLOSED, even under Lockdown Level 1, and despite the DA informing the Minister that citizens will be denied their constitutional right to citizenship, and requesting that the service be urgently reopened.

“The Department has failed to answer a written parliamentary question submitted by the DA regarding the medical, scientific, or Covid-19-risk related reasons these services remain closed,” says the statement.

The DA submitted its heads of argument to the High Court in late 2020, arguing that:

  • Section 6(1)(a) of the Act is inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid;
  • All persons who had lost their South African citizenship in terms of Section 6(1)(a) of the Act on or after 6 October 1995 are South African citizens; and
  • That all persons referred to above may apply to the Minister in terms of Section 15 of the Act for the appropriate certificate of citizenship.

“If the DA is successful, we will overturn the effects of the unfair stripping of citizenship. Nobody should be stripped of their citizenship unwittingly and the DA and DA Abroad will fight for the constitutional rights of all South Africans, at home and abroad,” says the statement.

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