Great news for the thousands of South Africans around the world who have inadvertently lost their South African citizenship – the Democratic Alliance (DA) has confirmed it will take the fight for the rights of South Africans unknowingly deprived of their citizenship to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Section 6(1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995 (“the Act”) deprives South African citizens of their citizenship if they take up a second nationality without receiving a ‘letter of retention’ of citizenship from the Department of Home Affairs.
“The DA has been granted special leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal against the judgment handed down by the North Gauteng High Court in terms of which we request that the judgment be set aside and that the Act be found unconstitutional due to the irrationality of Section 6 of the Act,” DA Abroad Leader Ludre Stevens and DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Adrian Roos, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It is common cause that Home Affairs finds no issue with a South African becoming a dual citizen and this calls into question the legitimate purpose of this provision when neither Home Affairs nor the citizen is aware of such loss at the time it occurs,” says the DA.
Section 7 of the Act provides a mechanism that allows citizens to renounce their citizenship should they explicitly choose to do so.
“The assumption that citizens necessarily intend to give up their citizenship when taking a second citizenship has been made despite overwhelming evidence submitted to the court confirms citizens did not intend to lose their citizenship,” say Stevens and Roos.
SAPeople has received hundreds of desperate emails from South Africans abroad who had no idea they had lost their citizenship when they applied for a second one. Some in fact had been incorrectly informed by SA Embassies in their countries.
The DA say the evidence submitted to court further outlines the challenge arising from citizens receiving bad advice from embassies around the world on the impact of section 6(1)(a). In the appeal the DA points to judicial precedent which supports the position that a constitutional deficiency cannot be defended by referring to untenable assumptions about perfect human behaviour.
The DA said it will continue to defend the constitutional right of South Africans to citizenship in the land of their ancestors and the land of their birth.