SA’ers without citizenship: You don’t take SA out of someone’s soul

Henry

Although the famous chef Erik le Roux, co-presenter of the popular Edict of Nantesseries and brother of the artist Nataniël, has lived in France for more than two decades, his South African roots remain precious to him.

For this reason, it is extremely important for him to retain his citizenship in this country – not only for himself, but also for his children.

“The older you get, the more important it becomes to you. I also think that the day you have children, it becomes very different,” says Le Roux to RNews.

Like many other South Africans, Le Roux, who also has French citizenship, was shocked at the time when he found out that his South African citizenship “had expired like the date on an old can of food”.

This in terms of section 6(1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995, which was declared invalid and contrary to the Constitution on Tuesday after a long court battle.

This means that South Africans who have lost their citizenship through the application of this legislation have indeed not lost their citizenship.

“When I got French citizenship, I just assumed I would automatically keep my South African citizenship. It was a big shock for me to hear that I am no longer a South African citizen.

“I didn’t realize it at all. It’s not something you research because you assume ‘I was born and raised there’, so how can it suddenly disappear…? However, that was the reality.”

Le Roux says he is of course aware that many countries do not allow dual citizenship. However, he never realized he would have to apply to retain his South African citizenship.

But, says Le Roux, he will now be “first in line” to claim this citizenship again.

This does not mean he plans to move back to South Africa; on the contrary, the family is very happy in France. However, he has deep roots in his native country and many of his family and friends still live here in a country where a long bloodline of the family runs.

“It’s more something I feel than I think about a lot. My mother is there, my whole family is there. I was born and raised there. It’s not something you can take out of my soul. The roots of where you come from become more important as you get older.”

Le Roux’s wife, Nathalie, is French and so are his daughters, Giulia (9) and Luccia (13). Still, their children love South Africa and it is also important for them to have South African citizenship. After all, they also have a connection with the country.

It may also open other doors for them in the future, although one does not already know what the road ahead looks like.

What happened?

RNews earlier reported that the DA waged a nine-year campaign against the “draconian piece of apartheid legislation” and waged a five-year legal battle before the Court of Appeal delivered its verdict on Tuesday.

Adrian Roos, the DA’s spokesperson on internal affairs, explains that art. 6(1) of the Citizenship Act states that an adult citizen loses his South African citizenship if he or she takes the citizenship of another country through a voluntary and formal act, other than through marriage, without first obtaining permission from the Minister of obtain internal affairs to retain his or her South African citizenship.

However, the court found that this provision grants the minister a vague and undefined discretionary power with regard to the preservation of a fundamental right: the right to citizenship.

The civil rights organization AfriForum welcomed the verdict on Wednesday.

“This is a huge victory for every South African abroad who has lost their citizenship. I want to emphasize that citizenship is important, it creates a sense of belonging and contributes to someone’s identity,” says Sue-Ann de Wet, AfriForum’s Head of Diaspora.

She thinks it is also regrettable that the government keeps alienating South African emigrants – as with the tax bill with which they are trying to drain even more money from people who work abroad.

“Our people abroad are our best ambassadors and must be helped to maintain their identity. They are our family, friends and ambassadors, and we cannot afford to lose them. One thing is certain – if the state of South Africa’s political and security environment had been different, far fewer South Africans would have gone looking for greener pastures.”

AfriForum also encourages South Africans abroad to take part in the national election in 2024.

“Every cross on a ballot paper makes a difference.”