The Western Cape High Court has ruled that children born in South Africa to foreign parents are entitled to apply for citizenship. This is the result of a representation by the Legal Resource Centre of applicants who were born in SA to foreign parents before 2013, the majority of whom are now over 18 according to a report by News24.
“The LRC are pleased with the judgment which affirms the rights of our clients to be treated with dignity and not to be rendered non-citizens through the wrongful interpretation of statutes,” said LRC spokesperson Claire Martens in a statement.
Martens said that the ruling applied even if the children were born before the 2010 Amendment, which came into effect in 2013. “They meet the requirements for applying for citizenship in terms of section 4(3) of the Citizenship Act, in that they were born in South Africa and have lived here since their births, and they have birth certificates attesting to their birth in South Africa,”
“The LRC approached the High Court on behalf of the applicants, arguing that the refusal to consider the applications for citizenship is prejudicial to our clients in a real way, having not only practical implications but also infringing on constitutional entitlements… But not allowing them citizenship, the department is consigning them, unlawfully, to remain as non-citizens in the country that they have lived in since birth and is the only country they know.”
According to the LRC Press Release, the judgment in the High Court agrees that there are constitutional entitlements at stake, including the right to dignity. It further states that, “the applicants have a statutory right to apply for citizenship and the respondents cannot limit or interfere with this right by contending that no prejudice flows”.
The Press Release goes on to clarify that the High Court did not direct the department to issue the applicants with citizenship but gave them 10 days to accept the applications and make a decision. The ruling took place on 7th September 2017.
“The court also directed that the Amendment Act must be interpreted to include children born before 2013,” said Martens.
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