Court orders Home Affairs to strike out 10-year wait for citizenship

The court has ordered the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to grant a stateless family's citizenship after almost 10 years of back and forth with the department.

The department has also been ordered to review legislation that requires immigrants to wait 10 years before citizenship is granted.

The Mulowayi family entered South Africa in 2002 seeking asylum, and later refugee status, explains immigration lawyer Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi.

After their refugee status was granted, they were granted South African permanent residence by DHA.

Five years after being permanent residents, they applied for SA citizenship.

They were instructed to first renounce their DRC citizenship, and then Home Affairs refused them SA citizenship after they did so.

Florette Mulowayi and her husband Nsongoni then had a baby son who was effectively stateless because his parents weren't SA citizens and had renounced their DRC citizenship.

The High Court in Cape Town has set aside the DHA's decision to refuse the family's application for citizenship.

The department now has two months to rectify the citizenship status of the family and review the regulation for citizenship status.

All three of them were effectively stateless.

Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi, specialist immigration and citizenship law attorney at De Saud Attorneys

They waited five years as permanent residents in order to apply for SA citizenship based on information they received from Home Affairs. They were following instructions and advice from officials.

Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi, specialist immigration and citizenship law attorney at De Saud Attorneys

They went to the Embassy and renounced their citizenship, and Home Affairs came back to them and refused the application on the basis that they had to wait another five years.

Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi, specialist immigration and citizenship law attorney at De Saud Attorneys

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