SA citizenship

New ruling paves way for SA expats to reclaim lost South African citizenship. Image: Adobe Stock

Hold on! New ruling on loss of SA citizenship

Here is good news for South Africans who involuntarily lost their SA citizenship when taking on the nationality of other countries.

SA citizenship

New ruling paves way for SA expats to reclaim lost South African citizenship. Image: Adobe Stock

According to a new judgment, South Africans who have taken up nationalities of other countries cannot be stripped of their SA nationality.

The Supreme Court has ruled that South African citizens who acquired the nationality of another country may not be deprived of their South African birthright.


South Africans are a migratory nation. Many South Africans have relocated to countries where they seek better living conditions, improved safety and equal employment opportunities.

Despite the country’s failings and shortcomings, countless South Africans living outside of SA still identify as South Africans. Many SA expats still maintain close ties with the country and want to hold onto their SA nationality.

However, a great number of South Africans have lost their right to SA citizenship when taking on nationalities of other states, after having lived in those states for specific periods of time.

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In a paramount judgment issued on 13 June, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that Section 6(1)(a) of SA’s Citizenship Act was unconstitutional and invalid.

The ruling stipulates that the state has no right to deprive South Africans of their birthright if they acquire the nationality of another country.


Section 6(1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act states that South African citizens are automatically stripped of their SA citizenship if they acquire citizenship of another country. However, this does not apply if first receiving permission to do so, from SA’s Home Affairs Ministry.

According to Daily Maverick, this legislation was intended to deprive exiled freedom fighters and Bantustan residents of South African citizenship during the apartheid era.


The Democratic Alliance brought the matter before the Supreme Court of Appeal after the High Court in Pretoria dismissed an earlier challenge of the constitutional validity of S 6(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act 88 of 1995.

The Act states that adult citizens automatically lose South African citizenship when they voluntarily and formally acquire citizenship or nationality of another country, without first obtaining permission to retain their nationality.

Many SA expats are unaware of this requirement and have involuntarily lost their South African citizenship when taking on the nationalities of other countries.

The ruling paves the way for many expats to reclaim SA nationality which they may have lost when acquiring other nationalities.

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