Our Submissions on Citizenship Act Draft Regulations

1. What are the Draft Amendment Regulations on the Citizenship Act?

On 24 July 2020, the South African government published the Draft Amendment Regulations on the Citizenship Act, 1995. These Draft Regulations were open to public comment. The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, and other organisations, responded to these Draft Regulations by submitting comments to the South African government.

These Draft Regulations are important because they give effect to the Citizenship Act as amended. They assist in setting out how the Act is implemented. For example, they set out how a person might make an application to citizenship in terms of certain sections of the Citizenship Act.

The Citizenship Act is an important piece of law that sets out who qualifies for South African citizenship. Among others, of particular interest to us is Section 4(3) which states that a child born in South Africa to two parents (who are not South African citizens, or who do not hold permanent residence) qualify to apply for citizenship, upon turning 18, if they have lived in South Africa from birth to 18 years of age, and if their birth is registered in accordance with the provisions of the Births and Deaths Registration Act.

2. How has The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town reacted to these Draft Regulations?

The Scalabrini Centre has submitted comments on the Draft Regulations. These submissions were endorsed by Centre for Child Law, Lawyers for Human Rights, Nelson Mandela Refugee Rights Clinic, Section 27, Southern Africa Litigation Centre, Southern African Nationality Network, UCT Refugee Rights and SIHMA. You can read the full submissions by clicking the button below.

3. What was said in the submissions made by The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town?

In short, the following concerns were raised:

  • The Draft Amendment Regulations omit vital provisions regarding the implementation of section 2(2) of the SA Citizenship Act, 1995.
  • The Draft Amendment Regulations are ultra vires the empowering provisions in the South African Citizenship Act, 1995.
  • The Draft Amendment Provisions fail to comply with established jurisprudence interpreting section 4(3) of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995.
  • The Draft Regulations fail to take into account recommendations made by international treaty bodies and are incompatible with international law.
  • The Draft Amendment Regulations inhibits South Africa’s potential to fulfil its official pledges and commitments to the international community to prevent, reduce and eradicate statelessness within its borders.
  • The Draft Amendment Regulations places restrictions on the rights of citizens naturalised in terms of section 4(3) of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995, thereby impairing their equal enjoyment of the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship.
  • Lastly, public participation in law-making is a key tenet of our democratic system. In the representations it is noted that 24 July to 30 August was the period to make submissions but that the regulations would be finalised 11 working days thereafter which is insufficient time for DHA to properly apply their minds to the submissions. We wish to encourage the government to allow more time for such submissions, and to ensure that the public participation procedure is not reduced to a tick-box approach.

We recommend that the Department amend the Amendment Regulations further so as to ensure that the final promulgated version is in line with guidance and jurisprudence provided by our Courts in relation to the interpretation of the specific provisions to which these Regulations pertain

4. How can I become involved?

Comments on these Draft Regulations were due on 30 August 2020. However, if you would like to endorse our comments please click on the button below. You can edit this template as you want to, and send it to the address provided on the document itself. If you would like a Word version of this document, please email lotte@scalabrini.org.za.

Making business plans with the Employment Access Programme

A warm, friendly voice on the other end of the phone, with echoes of children playing and talking in the background – Divine instantly makes you feel like you are talking to an old friend. Leaving her home country of DRC and her eventual arrival in South Africa were both journeys mired in fear. But Divine is a resilient, determined woman; she has taught herself English, raised a family, found jobs in all sorts of sectors and has used this experience and various online sessions from Employment Access to find a job during Covid-19. She wants to share her success and resilience with other women and eventually start her own business 

Often, a barrier to integration is language. In Divine’s case, her lack of English actually helped her land her first job! “I could only say ‘good morning’. But Cross Trainer hired me because I spoke French – and that’s where I started learning English!” Divine started working at the Cross Trainer in Cape Town’s International Airport during the 2010 World Cup. It was here that her dreams of starting her own business began. 

Divine was an accountant at a big supermarket back home in Lubumbashi. Her father was a CEO, but because of ethnic fighting her father lost his job. Following this, Divine and her eldest sister fled to South Africa after being attacked in their home. The journey was long and potholed: what agents promised to be a few days took more than a week – with Divine and her sister being arrested at one point – while their family had no idea where they were. 

Although things seemed difficult on initial arrival in South Africa (Divine and her sister were victims of an armed home invasion) – Divine has managed to build a beautiful life. Having built up stability in South Africa, Divine is now focused on achieving her goals and assisting other women. 

After leaving Cross Trainer, Divine worked in various different companies and positions. From an assistant manager at King Pie to a sales assistant at Exotic Persians, Divine has gained experience in an array of careers – which has helped her to find her current employment. “I like the hospitality world and I am definitely a people’s person,” she remarks, reflecting on her ultimate role as a guesthouse manager. 

After Divine took maternity leave from the guesthouse, she approached Scalabrini. She accessed the Advocacy Programme, then the Women’s Platform and then Employment Access – who helped Divine find employment during lockdown. When South Africa went into lockdown, Employment Access started various online sessions for clients aimed at getting them ready for successful job applications once the lockdown easedDivine joined many of these sessions including ‘Interview Questions Discussion’ and FUNZI courses (a platform that offers free Job Readiness courses). With the preparation and support offered to Divine from Employment Access – she went into her interview with confidence and got the job as Front of House Manager at a guesthouse – with the employer being particularly impressed that Divine had completed a Covid-19 course.  

Divine is now working this job with her business dream in mind. “I would like to start a sewing business. I’m good with outfits and evening wear, so I would like to start something where I can make lots of different things, and then help others who are also looking for jobs. I won’t let a woman like me just sit at home. I can help them and we can work together.” 

Like many in South Africa and across the world, lockdown has been difficult time for Divine. It had the potential to derail her plans. “Lockdown was very stressful. We have three kids and my husband is still not back at work. They were sending invoices for school fees, the kids need to eat, and I need to buy nappies for the little one.”  

With the help of Employment Access and her dedication to the sessions offered by them, Divine is working again and can set her mind at ease. “I’m enjoying it and I’m learning more every day. I like learning. Before starting my own thing, it’s good to see how to run a business – from what I’m doing today, I will be able to run my own thing.” 


Infographic: Applying for Social Relief of Distress Grant

Eligible asylum seekers and special permit holders (Zimbabwean Exemption Permit, Lesotho Exemption Permit, and Angolan Special Permit) can apply for the SASSA Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant. Applications must be made on the SASSA web application portal, or by whatsapp using the details on the SASSA website. You may be eligible to apply if your asylum document or special permit was valid on 15 March 2020 (the date that the State of National Disaster in  South Africa was declared). See our information sheet below, as well as the SASSA website and FAQs for more information.

Apply at: https://srd.sassa.gov.za/

PLEASE NOTE: When you get the relevant step in a drop down menu make you select the correct permit. It will ask you if it is a special permit and what type (ASP/ZEP/LSP) or an asylum seeker document.