South Africa: Amendments to Citizenship Act infringe human rights, say lawyers

Published: 14/Feb/2020
Source: Daily Maverick (South Africa)

On 1 January 2013, at least five South African citizens potentially lost their citizenship after the current South African Citizenship Amendment Act came into effect, argued Lawyers for Human Rights. After the High Court declared the act constitutionally invalid, the human rights lawyers applied to the Constitutional Court to confirm the High Court’s decision. However, The Department of Home Affairs – the responding party– attempted to dispute the order despite failing to provide sufficient reason to do so.

By Sumeya Gasa

Martin Hoffman was born in Zimbabwe. His father, however, was a South African employee of the United Nations (UN). At the time, both his parents worked at a Zimbabwe United Nations office. Years later, Hoffman’s passport expired while in South Africa resulting in him losing his Zimbabwean citizenship. With a South African wife and kids, Hoffman has been fighting to register as a citizen of the country for the past decade.

Under the previous act, Hoffman’s citizenship was assumed by right of his father’s nationality. However, after the 2013 Act came into effect, his status came under dispute as the Department of Home Affairs refused to grant him citizenship simply because he was not born on South African soil.

The South African Citizenship Act has undergone three amendments since it was first initiated in 1949 under the apartheid government. Each time, the amendments sought to adopt a more progressive position to include everyone deemed to have a right to South African citizenship either by birth or through parentage.

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Themes: Acquisition by children
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2020