Litigation: Nigerian dad, children stripped of SA citizenship

The SCA has dismissed Nigerian national Anthony Nwafor’s attempt to set aside the decision to deprive him and his minor children of their citizenship in SA, says a Cape Times report. Nwafor acquired SA citizenship after being granted a certificate of naturalisation by the Department of Home Affairs in 2009. Prior to granting this certificate, the department issued him a permanent residence permit or an exemption certificate. Nwafor secured this on the strength of his marriage to a South African citizen, Gladys Vilankulo, in April 2003, the validity of which was strongly disputed. He had concealed that he was still married to Amarachukwu Ebare Nwafor, whom he wed in Nigeria in March 2003. Nwafor approached the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), and in a supplementary affidavit claimed he entered into a civil marriage with Amarachukwu in February 2000 at a court in Lagos but thereafter filed for divorce. The High Court dismissed the application and leave to appeal, with costs.

The SCA held that as there was no valid explanation about how Nwafor obtained his permanent residence permit, the inference that it was obtained through fraudulent means, was in the SCA’s view, not unreasonable. According to the Cape Times report, the SCA further held that the decree of divorce – relied upon by the applicant as proof of his divorce to Amarachukwu – was in fact a decree nisi, and that the earliest possible date of divorce would have been June 2003. ‘The complaint by the applicant that the deprivation of citizenship was arbitrary and unlawful and was done without being afforded an opportunity to be heard or that he was not afforded sufficient and reasonable time to make representations must fail. An analysis of the department’s letter dated 13 April 2016, addressed to the applicant and his family, shows that it complies with section 3(2) of PAJA (Promotion of Administrative Justice Act),’ the SCA found.

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