South Africans losing their citizenship
The most common reason for a person to have their citizenship revoked is having the citizenship or nationality of another country.
Section six of the Citizenship Act explains: “A South African citizen shall cease to be a South African citizen if: he or she, whilst not being a minor, by some voluntary and formal act other than marriage, acquires the citizenship or nationality of a country other than the Republic; [and/or] he or she in terms of the laws of any other country also has the citizenship or nationality of that country, and serves in the armed forces of such country while that country is at war with the Republic.”
According to Haniff Hoosen, the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for Home Affairs, it is unreasonable for government to expect the general populace to “know the consequences of such a provision, passed in parliament in 1995.”
He noted: “Since the consequences are of such a serious nature, affecting the human rights of individuals, the department should in the least, inform persons in advance before they lose their citizenship and afford them an opportunity to apply for retention before revoking their citizenship.
“This provision may also be in conflict with the provisions of the constitution and I will be seeking legal advice on this matter.”
While it is possible for a person to have dual citizenship. You are required to apply for the retention of your South African citizenship, before applying for citizenship in another country.
The Act states that any person, prior to the loss of their citizenship, can “apply to the Minister to retain his or her South African citizenship, and the Minister may, if he or she deems it fit, order such retention.”
When travelling with dual citizenship, Hoosen explained: “As I understand the general immigration laws, [a person] may choose either passport provided that they arrive with the same passport used on departure.”
It is not clear if people are informed prior to their citizenship being revoked. The Department of Home Affairs had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. However, Hoosen said: “I am not aware of any situation where citizens are made aware before or after their citizenship is revoked.”
While the Department of Home Affairs has come out stating that more than 2000 people have lost their citizenship in the last four years, Hoosen noted that when the question was posed to Minster Gigaba by the DA last year, his response differed.
The DA sent the following question to the Minister in March of last year: “How many South Africans have lost their citizenship because they did not seek permission to obtain citizenship of another country since the SA Citizenship Act, Act 88 of 1995, came into effect and (b) what were the respective reasons for this?”
The Minister responded with the following answer in April of last year: “There is no record on hand to provide information on the number of South Africans who lost their citizenship because they did not seek permission prior to obtaining citizenship of another country since the SA Citizenship Act, Act 88 of 1995, came into effect.
“Reasons for electing not to apply for retention of citizenship prior to obtaining foreign citizenship are not known to the department, it being a matter of individual right or choice.”
Applying for resumption
If your South African citizenship has been revoked, you can apply to have it reinstated. Hoosen noted that section 13 of the Citizenship Act deals with “Resumption of South African citizenship.”
The act states:
“A minor who has in terms of section 10 or a provision in any of the laws referred to in Schedule 2 ceased to be a South African citizen and who is resident in the Republic or has returned to the Republic for permanent residence therein, may at any time after attaining the age of 18 years make a declaration in the prescribed form stating that he or she wishes to resume South African citizenship, and if the Minister deems it fit, he or she may order that such a declaration be registered, and upon registration thereof, such person shall resume his or her former South African citizenship.
“Any person who ceased to be a South African citizen by virtue of the provisions of any prior law or by virtue of the provisions of section 9 as it existed immediately before its repeal by section 1 of the South African Citizenship Amendment Act, 2004 (Act No. 17 of 2004), or who ceases to be a South African citizen by virtue of the provisions of section 6, 7, 8 or 10, may-
“(i) if he or she is not a person referred to in section 11(3) and who is residing in the Republic permanently or returns to the Republic for permanent residence therein, as the case may be; or
“(ii) if he or she is a person as referred to in section 11(3) and a permit for permanent residence referred to in section 25 of the Immigration Act, is issued to him or her, apply to the Minister in the prescribed manner for the resumption of his or her former South African citizenship.”
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