South Africa: P.P.M and Others v Minister of Home Affairs and Others

Published: 16/Jan/2024
Source: High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division

(14238/21) [2024] ZAGPPHC 2 (16 January 2024)


[1] South Africa is one of the preferred destinations for various categories of migrants. The country faces many migration-related challenges, including the increased prevalence of irregular migration and identity theft.[1] Non-South African citizens who enter the country unlawfully often employ various means to obtain identity numbers under the pretense that they were either born as South African citizens or awarded permanent resident status. This abuse of process allows for illegal foreigners to access benefits reserved for South African citizens and permanent residents. The use of fraudulently obtained identity documents creates a dilemma for the Government and the country on different levels.

[2] To address this dilemma, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) resorted to a practice, referred to herein as ID blocking, to block any suspiciously processed identity number before or while investigating whether a person registered in the national population register is a South African citizen or permanent resident. Because the ID blocking underpinning this litigation occurred before any investigation was concluded and a final decision was reached regarding a person’s status as citizen or permanent resident, it prejudiced bona fide citizens and permanent residents as much as it prevented illegal immigrants who fraudulently obtained identity numbers to reap the benefits of being issued with an identity number and identity document.

[3] This application is a review application of the DHA’s practice of placing a marker against the identity number (ID) of a person registered in the national population register as a South African citizen or permanent resident, which automatically results in the marked ID being blocked, without advising the affected party of it despite all of its prejudicial consequences. It is not disputed that the impugned conduct of the DHA amounts to administrative action and that the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA) applies.

[4] The litigation concerns the legality of the respondents’ practice of blocking South African identity numbers prior to the correct investigation and procedural steps being followed. Markers are placed against IDs as an administrative tool to highlight concerns regarding the identity of the person involved due to suspected fraudulent activity or duplicate IDs. The current system utilised by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is developed so that placing a marker against an ID automatically blocks the ID where the individual concerned is suspected to be an illegal immigrant.

Read further:


Themes: ID Documents and Passports, Loss and Deprivation of Nationality
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2024