South Africa: Young Adults Born in SA Denied Right to Apply for Citizenship


Citizenship as a tool of exclusion was a staple of apartheid-era oppression in South Africa. It was with this in mind that the opening words of the Freedom Charter and later the preamble of the Constitution proclaimed, 'South Africa belongs to all who live in it'.

Unlike the US or our neighbour Lesotho, South Africa does not confer citizenship simply because you were born in its territory - there must be a further tie to the country. Children born to South African citizens (whether one or both parents) are automatically citizens, and children born and registered to foreign parents who were admitted for permanent residence qualify for citizenship when they turn 18 if they have lived in South Africa their whole life.

But what about the many children born in South Africa to parents who were neither South African citizens nor foreigners admitted for permanent residence?

While the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2010 has been criticised for restricting citizenship rights, including the "midnight deprivation" of the right to citizenship acquired under previous legislation, it took one positive step towards inclusion by broadening the category of persons eligible to apply for citizenship.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, which came into force on...

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