July 31, 2023

Victory win for thousands of South Africans who wrongly lost citizenship


Win in the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”) for all South Africans who lost their South African nationality since 1995, when acquiring foreign citizenship. Court now declares those who lost their citizenship on this basis are not deemed to have lost it and for their status to be restored. 


What has changed?

Due to rules contained within s6(1)(a) South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995, a South African citizen would have automatically lost their citizenship, if by some voluntary or formal act other than marriage, they acquired citizenship for another country without applying to the Minister of Department of Home Affairs to retain their South African citizenship first.

A new ruling has confirmed that this legislation was invalid and now the unconstitutionality must now be confirmed by the Constitutional Court before it can take effect. This will likely take several months.

Who is affected?

Thousands of South Africans who have lost their citizenship by operation of law and were not even aware of their automatic loss of citizenship upon acquisition of foreign citizenship until years later when trying to renew their passport.

What to expect /impact?

It will take time for the Constitutional Court to confirm the unconstitutionality within the previous legislation for those who had lost their citizenship unnecessarily. Hopefully it will mean an adjustment of status for those thousands who had lost their citizenship – but it will take some time whilst future developments take place.

What you need to do

For further information on South Africa, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team at immigration@sterlinglexicon.com.


Claire Edgerton

Claire Edgerton

Claire is a Global Immigration Strategy Manager and brings over 10 years experience to the Sterling Lexicon team. Claire is experienced in managing the delivery of global immigration services as well as managing the integration of global immigration vendors.

Claire is Sterling Lexicon’s dedicated immigration specialist within our Global Network Integration team.

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