South Africa’s 1994 elections paved the way for all citizens to enjoy the human rights flowing from equal citizenship but rumours of the deficient pre-electoral registration of the previously disadvantaged have been wholly disregarded in the wake of apartheid’s fall. The effects of rushed registration policies have caught up with us and an urgent response is needed to avoid a potential nationality crisis.
The department of home affairs’ recent attempts to tidy up the population register have left many South Africans, not only unequal, but stateless and without recourse. Home affairs has launched a campaign to eliminate duplicate and fraudulently obtained identity numbers. More than 500 000 potential duplicate or multiple ID cases were initially identified and the ID numbers were “blocked”.
A blocked ID equates to someone being deprived of nationality and denied access to basic rights while their status is investigated.
As for fraudulently obtained ID numbers, officials routinely block ID numbers upon mere suspicion of the person being a “foreigner”. Fraudsters and innocents alike are being deprived of nationality until they can prove their identities. Due to strict documentary requirements, many are unable to prove their heritage. The initiative, in principle a praiseworthy effort, simultaneously poses a direct threat to the right to nationality.