Major legal victories for Lawyers for Human Rights in two separate cases
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Pretoria - Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) scored major legal victories in two separate cases on behalf of people who have been fighting the various arms of government for years in a bid to simply continue with their lives in the country.
In the one case before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, a man born in the country at last obtained citizenship through the court's intervention.
In the other case, two men who fled their countries of origin as they feared for their lives have now received refugee status, a major relief for them.
In the first matter, LHR assisted Emmanuel Bukweya Ngenani, who wanted to be recognised as a South African citizen and to receive an SA identity document. LHR successfully argued that the Home Affairs Department’s refusal to issue Ngenani with an ID was irrational.
Ngenani was born in South Africa to parents of Angolan descent in 1995, and he has lived in South Africa since birth. He had been consistently denied citizenship by the department, since applying for an ID when he turned 18.
He was told that he was ineligible for SA citizenship as he was Angolan, by virtue of his parents being Angolan.
The consequences of being barred from accessing citizenship are severe, with direct implications on accessing other rights, such as health care, education and basic services, LHR said.
It was argued that the refusal to recognise him as a citizen was irrational because he met all the requirements in law.
He was born in South Africa, has lived in South Africa since birth and only knows and considers South Africa as his home, and has already reached the age of majority.
Charné Tracey, LHR attorney in the matter, pointed out that in terms of an earlier Supreme Court of Appeal judgment, there was a right to apply for citizenship in a country where one was born, had lived and which was the only country the person had known.
In the second victory, the court awarded refugee status to two people only identified as JN and KHG. The court overturned the decision by the department not to grant them refugee status, and the judge himself granted them such status.
JN and KHG had originally lodged applications for asylum, which were rejected in 2015 and 2010, respectively.
Both fled to South Africa to seek asylum as they feared persecution in their countries of origin.
LHR, among others, argued that the department did not bother to properly investigate their claims that their lives would be in danger if they were forced to return to their countries of origin.
Tracey said there were critical flaws in the system which placed asylum seekers at risk of being unlawfully expelled or deported from South Africa.