The families facing generations of statelessness in South Africa

Published: 28/Jan/2020
Source: Al Jazeera

In Cape Town’s Phillipi township, one woman is fighting to secure nationality for herself and her child.

by Jamaine Krige & Yeshiel Panchia

Luthando*, 28: ‘I went to court and I won the case but I am still stateless’

It has taken years for Luthando, 28, to be recognised as a South African citizen, even though she believes she was born here, albeit to undocumented migrant parents.

The law in South Africa states that if you are born in South Africa and you have no other nationality, then you are South African. In practice, however, it does not always work this way.

Furthermore, even though Lawyers for Human Rights, which has been fighting cases on behalf of migrants and refugees in South Africa for the past 30 years, won an important victory when the courts recognised Luthando as South African several months ago, she has yet to receive her much-needed documents or those for her one-year-old son, Bandile*.

Luthando cannot be certain where her parents came from. Her mother, whose nationality she does not know, died when she was five years old.

“My dad told me that they came in from Zimbabwe,” she says.

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Themes: Statelessness
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2020