Chapter 2 - Citizenship
To be a citizen of a country means that you belong to that country and have the right to live there. A country must protect its citizens if they need help when they are travelling in other countries. Citizenship is a very important thing and people value it highly.
Laws governing citizenship
Children's Act No.38 of 2008
Refugees Amendment Bill, 2010
There are a number of laws due for reform and undergoing reform, which may change the requirements described in this chapter.
In South Africa our Bill of Rights gives many rights to 'everyone', but keeps certain rights for citizens only. If you are a citizen of South Africa you have the right to:
None of these rights apply to people who are not South African citizens, even if they have lived legally in this country for very many years.
The government can pass laws which give those rights to non-citizens. For example, some people who were not citizens were allowed to vote in the 1994 election. But it is not a right which is protected in the constitution for non-citizens, so government can also pass a law which takes the vote away from them.
People who are not citizens must have permission to enter South Africa. If they want to stay, they must get a permit to live here.
Problems are usually experienced by people who are having difficulties in getting a first Identity Document (ID). Very often it is because their citizenship is being questioned by the Department of Home Affairs. ID books are only issued to citizens and to those non-citizens who have been given a permit to stay permanently in South Africa.
If the person does not have a birth certificate or good proof of being born in South Africa, they will be asked to bring all sorts of information about their parents, their schooling and so on.
WARNING: Anyone giving advice must be very careful when dealing with citizenship problems.
Advice givers can assist a person to collect all the right proofs and documents but should then refer the case to a Law Clinic, or public interest law firm such as the Legal Resources Centre, before doing anything else.
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