Source: Daily Maverick (South Africa)
A case brought before court on behalf of a group of stateless people, claiming that they lost their South African citizenship by descent when the law was changed, has revealed absolute chaos at the Department of Home Affairs, which had to send a heavyweight legal team to the Constitutional Court on 13 February 2020 to plea for permission to have another chance to overturn a court order they claim will open the floodgates to millions of people who want citizenship to access grants.
By Estelle Ellis
From being too busy to blaming an intern to citing workloads and wrong advice being given, the Department of Home Affairs filled pages with explanations, and apologies in papers filed before the Constitutional Court explaining why they didn’t file papers in two years, in a case they now claim will “open the floodgates”, for people wishing to gain South African citizenship to access government grants.
On Thursday, 13 February 2020, the Constitutional Court heard an application by Lawyers for Human Rights to confirm an order by the Pretoria High Court that parts of the South African Citizen Act were unconstitutional as it fails to recognise citizenship acquired by descent in terms of the previous legislation.
The organisation represents a group of people, all born outside of South Africa to a South African parent. They all claim to have been deprived of their citizenship when the legislation was changed and that this left them stateless as their births were not registered in time – but the law afforded citizenship to them because one of their parents was South African.