Decades-long battle for South African citizenship

Published: 13/Nov/2020
Source: New Frame (Johannesburg)

Two brothers born in South Africa to Angolan refugees still face an uphill battle for citizenship despite a high court order. The matter is now in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

By: Jan Bornman

After failing to keep up with the payment of his tuition fees, Jonathan Jose dropped out of university after six months. He has now joined his mother on the streets of Yeoville in Johannesburg, selling vegetables outside the Shoprite on Raleigh Street every morning.

After a long battle, the Pretoria high court ruled last year that the Department of Home Affairs had to grant Jonathan, 22, and his brother Joseph “Chris” Jose, 24, citizenship. They were born in South Africa after their parents fled the Angolan Civil War in 1994 as refugees. But the brothers’ celebration was short-lived as the department appealed the ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

“It’s really frustrating and we know our rights and we know we are South African,” Jonathan said ahead of the hearing in Bloemfontein on Wednesday 11 November. “We feel it should be obvious to everyone that we are South African.

“It’s not like we were born somewhere else. It’s worse that I was born here, I live here, I was schooled here, so every record in our opinion shows we are South African. But home affairs are still refusing. It makes us wonder, do they even care? To us it’s clear they do not care.”

Jonathan has said previously that the brothers have never been outside of South Africa. “The only [other] place we have been is Durban. We’ve never left the country at all. I never even thought about leaving the country. I have been here all my life.

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Themes: Naturalisation and Marriage, Nationality and Refugees
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2020