15 November 2004
The government has appealed to South Africans with dual citizenship to use their South African passports when leaving or returning to the country.
According to the South African Citizenship Amendment Act of 2004, that came into effect on 15 September, it is now an offence for locals with dual citizenship to use their foreign passports to leave or gain entry to the country.
It is also an offence for a citizen, while in South Africa, to use his or her foreign citizenship to gain advantage or avoid a responsibility or duty, says the Department of Home Affairs.
However, the new Act allows South Africans with dual nationality to freely use their foreign passports outside South Africa.
A provision of the South African Citizenship Act of 1995, allowing the minister of home affairs to deprive a citizen of his or her citizenship for having used the citizenship of a foreign country, has been repealed.
As a result, the need for exemptions or letters of permission from the minister to make use of a foreign passport has now been terminated.
“The issue of deprivation of citizenship was inconsistent with the Constitutional right to citizenship”, said Home Affairs spokesperson Nkosana Sibuyi.
“Accordingly, we would like to advise all South Africans who have dual citizenship and do not have South African passports to apply for their South African passports at the earliest opportunity.”
The department said it was mindful that many affected South Africans might not yet be aware of the amendments and their implications.
“We have therefore decided that affected South Africans departing or arriving through our ports of entry, attempting to use a foreign passport, will be issued with a warning giving them three months to obtain a South African passport”, Sibuyi said.
He added that authorities would not, in the meantime, prevent anyone from leaving or entering the country, provided they had applied for the relevant document.