Press Release: High Court Dismisses Attempt To Revoke Stateless Child’s Citizenship

Published: 30/May/2019
Source: Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa)

Lawyers for Human Rights welcomes the decision by the High Court this week dismissing an attempt by the Department of Home Affairs to deprive a stateless child of her right to citizenship. This decision will hopefully end the 6 year court battle that 11-year old Maria (not her real name) endured in the fight for her right to a nationality.

“The South African Citizenship Act gives citizenship to children born stateless in South Africa. This provision is crucial to preventing statelessness in South Africa and protecting children who are deprived of their right to a nationality. Daniella qualifies for South African citizenship under this provision” said Liesl Muller, head of the LHR Statelessness Project.

Home Affairs has attempted to prevent Maria from having a nationality in three courts over 6 years. The High Court first declared Maria to be a South African citizen in 2014 when she was just 6 years old, after the Department of Home Affairs denied her right to citizenship. The Department appealed this order to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which confirmed the high court order finding Maria to be a citizen in 2016. The Department then unsuccessfully attempted to rescind the High Court order, which the High Court refusing to do so on 29 May 2019, and compelling the Department of Home Affairs to issue Maria with her South African citizen ID number and birth certificate.

The law in Maria’s parents’ country of birth, Cuba, does not allow her to have Cuban citizenship, because she was born outside of Cuba. She has been stateless since her birth in Cape Town in 2008. Now Maria is 11 years old and she will be able to register for high school soon using her new ID number. Without an ID number, she would not have been able to continue her schooling.

Read original press release:

For more on Maria’s case, watch this short film:


Themes: Acquisition by children, Statelessness
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2019