South Africans applying for another citizenship need to reapply to retain their South African one. Picture: Pexels.
South Africans applying for another citizenship need to reapply to retain their South African one. Picture: Pexels.

South Africans wanting foreign citizenship will be stripped of their own if they don't reapply for retention

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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You could lose your South African citizenship if you acquire the citizenship or nationality of another country.

The SA Citizenship Act, 1995, states that a South African citizen shall cease to be a South African citizen if "(a) he or she, whilst not being a minor, by some voluntary and formal act other than marriage, acquires the citizenship or nationality of a country other than the Republic; or (b) he or she in terms of the laws of any other country also has the citizenship or nationality of that country, and serves in the armed forces of such country while that country is at war with the Republic."

South Africans will need to "apply to the Minister to retain his or her South African citizenship, and the Minister may if he or she deems it fit order such retention".

This means that South Africans applying for another citizenship need to reapply to retain their South African one. Failing to do so means they will be stripped of their SA citizenship.

Earlier this year, the DA challenged Section 6(1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995, which it said was unconstitutional.

However, Judge Jody Kollapen ruled in court last month that the SA Citizenship Act did not deprive South Africans of their citizenship and that the act made provision for them to apply to retain their citizenship before obtaining a new one.

The appeal was filed on September 2, but Judge Kollapen dismissed it this week.

Speaking on the Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto show on Cape Talk, immigration law specialist Stefanie De Saude Darbandi said the effect was that the person ceased to be a South African, with no passport or right to vote.

"South Africa has no issue with dual or multiple citizenship status. The act makes provision for anyone who wants to renounce their South African citizen status. So, if they do want to give it up, there is a way to do that.

“The judge believed that the purpose is that it allowed South Africans to give it up but it defeats the purpose of the provisions that allow the renunciation. And most of these people who acquire this foreign nationality don't want to give it up their citizenship.

"There was ample proof to show that if people knew they needed to ask the minister for the consent, they would’ve done so," she said.

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