Lesotho: Director of Immigration and others v. Lekhoaba
Source: Lesotho Court of Appeal
C of A (CIV) No. 22/07
(a) Dual citizenship – Failure to renounce South African citizenship – Section 41 of the Constitution of Lesotho -Sections 22 and 23 of the Citizenship Order 1971 -Whether the first respondent ceased to be a citizen of Lesotho in terms of the Constitution.
(b) The first respondent was a citizen of Lesotho by birth. His parents took him to South Africa at an early age, he lived in that country for almost all of his life and he still lives there. In 1987, at the age of seventeen he acquired citizenship of South Africa. When the Constitution came into effect in 1993, the first respondent was obliged to renounce his South African nationality by the specified date, i.e. when he reached the age of twenty-six, in terms of section 41(1) of the Constitution. This he did not do. Accordingly he ceased to be a citizen of Lesotho.
(c) There is no conflict between section 41 of the Constitution and section 22 of the Citizenship Order 1971. The respondents’ submission that the first respondent could lose his citizenship only by renunciation under section 22 is incorrect.
(d) Moreover the first respondent was not deprived of his citizenship in terms of section 23 of the Citizenship Order.
(e) The harassment of the first respondent by functionaries of the Government is deplored. It appears to be obvious that the question of his dual citizenship was raised by the authorities only because he allowed free expressions of opinion to take place over the airwaves of a local radio station. His deportation order, which was set aside by the Court a quo, was issued by the second appellant for the same political reason. In the view of the members of this Court Parliament should give urgent consideration to the desirability of enacting legislation to permit citizens of Lesotho who acquire citizenship of South Africa to hold dual citizenship in appropriate circumstances.
In view of the conclusions expressed in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 above, the majority judgment (Hlajoane and Mahase JJ) on the question of citizenship is wrong and the dissenting judgment of Peete J is correct. Appeal accordingly allowed.
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