From left: Siblings of Indian descent Aldona (19) and Akhil (22) Tommy show off their South African naturalization certificates.

Johannesburg - Around 278 foreign nationals from around the world are currently receiving their South African naturalisation certificates from Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba at a naturalisation ceremony in Durban.

Gigaba says that the department had decided in 2016 to conduct naturalisation ceremonies to officially induct naturalised South African citizens into the country.

“From today onwards, you too are part of the rich history of our country and the rich tapestry of what constitutes our nation.

“Over many years of its existence our country has continued to evolve to accommodate in its rich fabric ever newer elements of people all whom, individual and collectively, enrich our understanding of who we are as well our standing in the world,” Gigaba says.

He said that the department did not treat the issue of South African citizenship as a routine administrative matter hence they undertook the decision to conduct the ceremony in a formal induction process.

Video: Samkelo Mtshali

“You bring into our society not only the learned experiences of your countries of origin, but also the rich diversity that helps enrich who we are and makes us better people ready for future challenges in a highly complex and diverse, but very integrated and globalised world,” says Gigaba.

Amongst those who received naturalisation certificates, were siblings Aldona Tommy, 19, and Akhil Tommy, 22, who respectively flew from Pretoria and Port Elizabeth to attend the ceremony.

“I was born in India in 1999 and came to South Africa after my birth, but my parents moved to South Africa in 1993,” Aldona, a second-year Medical student at the University of Pretoria says.

She said that although she was happy to finally receive her naturalisation certificate, having applied for citizenship in 2016, it did not feel any different because she has lived in the country her whole life.

“South Africa has felt like home for as long as I can remember,” she says.

Political Bureau