The SCA’s ruling has striking implications for individuals affected by the South African Citizenship Act provision. It represents a significant milestone in rectifying an unfair and inconsistent provision within South African citizenship legislation.
SCA Renders Controversial Citizenship Act Provision Unconstitutional and Invalid
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has made a noteworthy ruling, declaring a specific provision of the South African Citizenship Act unconstitutional and invalid. The provision in question, Section 6(1)(a), had far-reaching implications as it stipulated that individuals would cease to be South African citizens if they voluntarily acquired citizenship or nationality of another country through a formal act, excluding marriage. As reported in the News24 article, this ruling stemmed from an appeal by the Democratic Alliance (DA) against an order issued by the Gauteng High Court.
The DA challenged the provision’s constitutionality on behalf of South Africans who unknowingly lost their citizenship after acquiring a second nationality. In its ruling, the SCA concurred with the DA’s arguments, asserting that the Act’s provision lacked a coherent basis for permitting dual citizenship while simultaneously resulting in the severe consequence of citizenship loss. The court found the provision irrational, indefensible, and inconsistent with the Constitution.
The case involved the testimony of Phillip James Plaatjes, a South African citizen residing in the United Kingdom. Plaatjes had acquired British citizenship after marrying a British citizen while working in South Korea. The DA used Plaatjes’ case to illustrate the unintended loss of citizenship that numerous individuals had experienced without their knowledge.
The SCA’s ruling carries significant implications. It deems the provision invalid, meaning that citizens who lost their citizenship under Section 6(1)(a) are now deemed not to have lost it. This decision is viewed as a victory for the constitutional right to citizenship, as it addresses the issue of citizens unknowingly losing their South African citizenship due to acquiring a second nationality. It challenges the fairness and capriciousness of the provision and underscores the importance of individual circumstances when determining citizenship status.
Written by Kim Jansen