MEMORANDUM FOR TELFED
Re: Dual Citizenship in South Africa
There has been much controversy surrounding the unsolicited and unwarranted statement by an ANC official Obed Bapela in the Sunday Times of the 6th September 2015 that South Africa would be “prohibiting” dual citizenship. The connotation in this newspaper article was that Israel and specifically South African young men who are serving in the IDF could be prosecuted, on the one hand and that dual citizenship should be banned to prevent the “hordes” of South Africans streaming out of the country to serve in the IDF.
It appears, ex post facto, that this has been a storm in a teacup save for the anti-Semitic under-and-overtones in the statement and media interviews in this regard: any such intended amendment to our Citizenship Laws would fly in the face of the South African Constitution and specifically Section 20 of the Constitution which states “no citizen may be deprived of his/her citizenship status”. In addition, the Minister of Home Affairs announced in the media on Wednesday this week that there was no intention nor contemplation to amend the citizenship laws at this time. This was a retraction of the previous statement.
It is therefore highly unlikely in any event that such an amendment to the Law would muster any support in the Constitutional Court.
The situation however highlights the duties and obligations of dual nationals.
Since the coming into operation of the South African Citizenship Act No.88 of 1995, a South African citizen who applies for a passport of another country and fails to apply for retention of their South African citizenship status will automatically lose their South African citizenship status, although retaining their “Birth Right” to permanent residency in South Africa.
However, if such South African citizen applied for retention of their South African citizenship status prior to acquiring the citizenship of another country, then they would become fully fledged dual nationals.
The only restrictions placed on them in that instance would be to enter and leave South Africa on their South African passports. Most other countries in the world that permit dual nationality, including Israel, impose such requirements as well i.e to enter and leave the country with its corresponding passport.
Should you require any further information do not hesitate to complete the Citizenship Questionnaire on our website at www.immigration.org.za and post your query.
Attorney at Law