South African citizenship can be acquired by birth, descent or naturalisation.
South African citizenship by birth can be acquired if the individual was born in South Africa and if at least one of the parents (or one of the adopted parents) was a South African citizen or the holder of a South African Permanent Residence Permit at the time of birth. The birth has to be registered in South Africa in order to obtain citizenship by birth.
If an individual was not born in South Africa, but he/she had a parent with South African citizenship at the time of birth (or is adopted by a South African citizen), citizenship can be acquired by descent (provided that the birth was registered).
An individual may be eligible to apply for South African citizenship by naturalisation if the provisions of Section 5 of the South African Citizenship Amendment Act are complied with. For example, an individual that is the holder of a Permanent Residence Permit in respect of South Africa for a period of 5 (five) years or an individual that is the spouse or dependent of a South African citizen or Permanent Residence Permit holder may qualify for citizenship by naturalisation.
According to the law, dual citizenship is allowed, however, it is very important to note that South African citizens desirous of dual citizenship will only retain their South African citizenship if they apply to retain their South African citizenship and receive such permission prior to the acquisition of the foreign citizenship. Failing to apply to retain their South African citizenship will result in the individual losing their South African citizenship once they acquire the foreign citizenship. The individual will still have the right to be a Permanent Residence Permit holder and will be able to apply for the resumption of their South African citizenship from within South Africa. Minors are exempt from this requirement and do not have to apply to retain their South African citizenship if they foreign citizenship is acquired before the attain the age of majority, being 18 years. If an individual does not wish to retain their South African citizenship, they can renounce the same.
There are restrictions related to the use of the foreign passport. If a South African citizen leaves or enters South Africa, the individual has to use their South African passport (and not the foreign passport).