Court reprieve for stateless family
Publish date: 11 June 2018
Issue Number: 777
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
The Western Cape High Court has set aside a decision by the Department of Home Affairs to refuse a stateless family's application for citizenship. A TimesLIVE report says the Mulowayi family, of Kensington‚ Johannesburg‚ finally found relief after a protracted battle with the department which had refused their application for citizenship on what has now been determined to be wrongful grounds. The Mulowayi family had been in the country since the early 2000s. Florette Mulowayi has lived and worked in SA since 2002‚ when she left her home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a refugee. Her husband‚ Nsongoni‚ joined her in 2004. They have since had three children. One of the children subsequently died. The family was left stateless after being denied citizenship‚ despite meeting all the requirements. According to Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi‚ a specialist immigration and citizenship law attorney representing the family‚ the court ruling effectively forces the department to render a decision within two months. She said the court had declared a regulation requiring them to apply for citizenship only after 10 years of ordinary residence in SA was beyond the department’s powers and unlawful. ‘This case is a victory not only for the Mulowayis but for the countless other families who are frustrated by inconsistent and sometimes wrongful interpretation and application of our laws by DHA officials‚’ De Saude-Darbandi said.