Non-citizens can't practice law in SA, ConCourt rules

| Refilwe Moloto speaks to director of Asylum Seeker, Refugee and Migrant Coalition, Muchengeti Hwacha, about the Constitutional Court ruling against foreign nationals without permanent residence enrolling as legal practitioners in the country.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that foreign nationals cannot be enrolled as legal practitioners in South Africa unless they are permanent residents in South Africa.

This is in accordance to the Legal Practice Act - which only allows South Africans and permanent citizens to be admitted as lawyers.

It is despite non-citizens being allowed to study law at South African universities.

The ruling would have dire consequences for foreign nationals who hoped to become lawyers in the county because it could take years for permanent citizenship to be granted.

It essentially locks foreign nationals completely out of the legal profession even if they have completed all the necessary steps to be enrolled in the profession.

The Constitutional Court has received nods from the Legal Practice Council, and several government departments including the Department of Home Affairs as well as the Department of Employment and Labour.

Director of Asylum Seeker, Refugee and Migrant Coalition, Muchengeti Hwacha, said there was no further redress following the apex court's ruling, which left qualified non-citizens - who aspired to practice law in South Africa - out in the cold.

The Constitutional Court finds that non-citizens can easily apply for an exemption in terms of Section 31 of the Immigration Act to gain permanent residence. However, policy of the Department of Home Affairs specifically excludes people from acquiring permanent residence for the purpose of admission and enrollment as legal practitioners.

Muchengeti Hwacha, director - Asylum Seeker, Refugee and Migrant Coalition

Listen to the full interview above.

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Non-citizens can't practice law in SA, ConCourt rules

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