"The South African Citizenship Act provides for retention of South African citizenship PRIOR to the acquisition of a foreign citizenship. A condition of attaining dual citizenship for all South African citizens aged 18 years or older is that they must apply and be granted permission to retain their South African citizenship prior to the acquisition of a foreign citizenship". Further details here
But, what happens if you did not know? What happens if you applied for and acquired foreign citizenship and now, after you have your citizenship of another country you realise that "If a South African citizen does not obtain this prior permission they will automatically lose their South African citizenship on voluntary acquisition of a foreign citizenship." This has happened to me and my family so I contacted the Dept. Home Affairs (DHA) and I was told that since we did not apply for the permission letter, the SA Citizenship of my wife and I (our kids are under 18) has automatically been renounced.
I enquired about having our citizenship reinstated which I'm told is possible, well sort of!
If you were born in SA it's your birthright to always have the right to permanent residence. All you need to do is move back (yes, on a tourist visa valid for 90 days) and start the process to reinstate your permanent residence. My wife however was born in UK and got SA citizenship through naturalisation when she was a child. Tough luck, she needs to start from scratch and has no rights to reinstate her permanent residence or citizenship.
I've contacted DHA and had no joy talking to them so I turned to the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Manny de Freitas. He at least replied to my emails and actually sympathises with me. The reason why he is sympathetic to my problem is that I did not know about the permission letter until I had acquired Aus citizenship. Nowhere in our passports does it say that we need to apply for permission and nowhere did the Australian Authorities inform us that we needed to acquire DHA permission. Of course it's not the Australians fault or responsibility but it is the responsibility of DHA to ensure that their citizens are informed of this very important information. The obvious place to post such information is in a current passport or have a relationship with Dept of Immigration of countries like Britain, Ireland, NZ, Aus, Canada, USA etc where Saffers would commonly apply for citizenship.
Sorry for the long-winded story but I really feel like those of us who unknowingly acquired the citizenship of another country without applying for the permission for dual citizenship letter really need to stand together. I'm not asking DHA for an exemption or any different treatment other than asking them to accept the application for permission even after the foreign citizenship has been granted. There's a FaceBook page for those interested and the more support the better.
Looking forward to hearing from people caught in a similar situation.
PS! Even if your not in a similar position please spread the word about the Face Book page.
Attached is a scan of my SA passport Conditions of Issue and no mention if permission for dual citizenship being required.
SA Passport (Conditions of Issue).jpg 121.83KB 0 downloads
Edited by Johnno, 14 December 2012 - 10:41 PM.