Ruling on the SA Citizenship Act

SA Citizenship Act
Photo by Emily Dalamangas on Unsplash

What all South Africans need to know about the SA Citizenship Act

Earlier this year, the Democratic Alliance (DA) challenged Section 6 (1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act of 1985. The DA said that the SA Citizenship Act was unconstitutional. The DA also noted that South Africans are unfairly stripped of their citizenship when they acquire citizenship of another country.

Unfortunately, the judge in the case, Judge Jody Kollapen, ruled that the SA Citizenship Act did not deprive South Africans of their citizenship. She further ruled that the act provided South Africans with the ability to retain their citizenship before acquiring new citizenship.

The DA filed an appeal on the decision, but the appeal was dismissed by Judge Kollapen earlier in September 2021.

The above is unfortunate news for many South Africans who unwittingly lost their SA citizenship when they applied for another country’s citizenship. Many South Africans hoped that the judgement would rule in their favour and that their SA citizenship would have been automatically reinstated.

Protecting your South African Citizenship

It is thus very important for South Africans who would like to apply for British or any other second nationality, to note the SA Citizenship Act provisions.

If you are about to apply for a second/third nationality, you have to apply for the Retention of South African citizenship. You have to do this before you acquire such citizenship. Following this procedure will safeguard your SA citizenship. You will thus also be able to hold dual citizenship or even three nationalities. This will of course depend on the rules of the other countries.

If you fail to formally apply for permission from the SA authorities before acquiring any other citizenship through naturalisation, you will automatically lose your South African citizenship.

Reinstating your SA Citizenship

It is possible to reinstate one’s South African citizenship if you lost it. Provided you were a born South African national. However, it is quite an administrative hassle to do this. It involves you having to live in SA for an extended time. One could apply for a returning resident, but it is a lot of hassle and money. It is also a lot more effort than taking a short time to protect it from the onset.

Why protect your SA citizenship?

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants advise our South African clients to protect their South African citizenship before applying for their British citizenship. Clients often feel that they don’t need to do this, as they believe they are emigrating permanently.

However, there are implications to this decision that could impact an individual and his/her family in the future. We thus rather advise that clients follow the procedure to prevent future administrative hassles.

Feel free to speak to your Breytenbachs consultant. Your consultant will be able to advise on the exact and correct procedure to retain your SA citizenship under the SA Citizenship Act. When it comes to the retention of your SA citizenship, prevention is better than cure.

For more information, please get in touch with Breytenbachs