Source: The Citizen (Johannesburg)
By Ilse de Lange
Herbert Baluku spent six years of his adult life in jail and was released from a South African deportation centre only after two urgent court applications. His only “crime” was not being able to prove citizenship of any country.
His plight is but one example of the tribulations faced by over 12 million people worldwide who are forced to live their lives as stateless persons.
The Statelessness Project of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) became aware of Baluku’s plight only after he had already been held in detention in South Africa for over six months because no country would recognise him.
They were forced to launch two urgent court applications to secure his release and had to fight Home Affairs again for a permit enabling Baluku to stay in South Africa until his status as a permanent resident under special circumstances was finalised.
Born in France, Baluku moved to the DRC at the age of two and was abandoned in Kenya when he was 12. He was arrested in Tanzania when he turned 18 because of his lack of documentation and was only released three years later when he threatened to commit suicide.