“Rather safe than sorry” for South Africans looking to get citizenship in another country

 ·4 Feb 2024

Despite a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling that South Africans cannot be stripped of their citizenship when receiving citizenship in another country, those looking to get two passports should still act cautiously.

According to section 6(1) of the Citizenship Act, South Africans will automatically lose their South African citizenship if they obtain citizenship in another country. However, the Constitution states that no South African may be stripped of their South African citizenship.

For those who want to retain their South African citizenship, they would need to apply to the Minister of Home Affairs.

Although the matter was taken to the Pretoria High Court, Section 6(1) was upheld.

However, the SCA ruled that the section was inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid. It also said that the Minister’s powers regarding the fundamental right to citizenship were too vague and undefined.

It ordered the reinstatement of citizenship for those who had lost it since the operation of the section in 1995. It also ordered that the Department of Home Affairs pay the legal costs of the applicant (the DA).

In response to a question from BusinessTech, the DA’s Adrian Roos, who is on the Portfolio Committee for Home Affairs, said that the Department of Home Affairs would not be appealing the SCA’s judgement, meaning that the ruling only needs to be ratified by the Constitutional court.

Warning signs

However, John Dunn, the Citizenship and Immigration Director at Sable International, said that South Africans should still apply for the retention application with the Department of Home Affairs.

“It is simple and cheap, and we would always say rather safe than sorry,” Dunn said.

He added that getting citizenship in another country can create major headaches.

“They can be stripped of their South African citizenship; however, in the unlikely event of that happening, you can always apply to have it reinstated. They will then have to travel on their foreign passport and will be treated as a visitor when entering and exiting the country.”

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