Note: Many South Africans who should be aware of this new development will be overseas and/or may not have heard of the Supreme Court of Appeal decision we discuss below. If you know of any such person, please consider forwarding this to them as soon as possible.
Reportedly, thousands of South Africans have lost their citizenship through applying for citizenship or nationality of another country without first obtaining Ministerial permission to do so.
Most will have done so unknowingly, ignorant of the fact that whilst dual citizenship itself is allowed, our Citizenship Act requires you to get permission beforehand. Only minors (under 18s) and persons acquiring foreign citizenship by marriage were exempt.
The good news is that the SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal) has now ordered that –
- That provision is inconsistent with the Constitution and is invalid retrospectively; and
- Citizens who lost their citizenship by operation of that provision “are deemed not to have lost their citizenship.”
But – the Constitutional Court still has to confirm the invalidity order
The SCA’s order of invalidity has no legal force unless and until confirmed by the Constitutional Court (CC), and there is (at date of writing) no indication of when this will go to the CC for confirmation, whether or not Home Affairs will oppose its confirmation in the CC, and whether or not they will continue to enforce the section in the interim. In the interim, tread very carefully if you are either planning to apply for foreign citizenship/nationality, or if you were deprived of SA citizenship and plan to return to the country in the near future.
Another “but” – never let your SA passport lapse!
That new judgment does not affect in any way the fact that, although you can travel freely around the world on your second passport, you must always enter and depart from South Africa on your valid SA passport. Keep renewing it!