Power and Associates; Power Singh Incorporated
Christy Chitengu, 24, is a candidate attorney at Power Singh Incorporated specialising in constitutional litigation and human rights. At the age of 23, she clerked at the Constitutional Court as a law clerk to Justice Madjiet. Christy was born in South Africa to undocumented foreign parents, a predicament which placed her at risk of being stateless as she was neither legally a South African citizen nor a Zimbabwean. She is the applicant in ongoing litigation against the department of home affairs to enforce her citizenship as provided by the South African Citizenship Act. Despite facing challenges concerning her documentation throughout her life, Christy obtained BA(Law) and LLB degrees and is currently pursuing her LLM on migration and displacement. In 2022, she was awarded the Mandela Rhodes scholarship for postgraduate study. Christy intends to establish a strategic litigation migrant rights practice where she can contribute to decreasing anti-migrant sentiment in South Africa. She has also worked at Section 27 and Lawyers for Human Rights. Through her work in public interest organisations, public speaking, research, her YouTube channel and writing newspaper articles, Christy has advocated for migrant rights and enabled access to information for migrants and refugees to be empowered to advocate for themselves in the absence of legal representation.
- Bachelor of Arts majoring in Law (BA law) University of Johannesburg
- Bachelor of Laws (LLB) University of Johannesburg
- Master of Arts in Migration and Displacement (MA) University of the Witwatersrand (Ongoing)
- 2022 awarded the Mandela Rhodes Foundation Scholarship. 2022 Law Clerk to Justice Steven Majiedt of the Constitutional Court. 2022
- I presented at the 8th Anniversary of the UNHCR Statelessness: I Belong Campaign.
- I was the main applicant in a case against the Department of Home Affairs to enforce my legislative right to South African citizenship against the Minister of Home Affairs. 2023 contributed to the LONDA: Digital Rights and Inclusion Annual Report for South Africa. 2021, awarded Golden Key membership.
- I have published opinion pieces in the Daily Maverick, Saturday Star, and New Age on topics affecting children. My earliest publication was at the age of 14 in the New Age Newspaper about school nutrition.
- In 2018 and 2019 I was awarded the merit bursary at the University of Johannesburg and in 2017 I was awarded the first year top achiever in my BA law degree.
- In my young legal career, I have been able to work for notable civil society organisations such as Section 27 and Lawyers for Human Rights.
Travelling across the Beit Bridge border with my mother and sister as a child born in South Africa to Zimbabwean parents exposed me to the life of migrants being treated with hostility by border officials. This experience fueled my desire to ensure that all migrants and refugees are afforded the dignity that each human at the most basic level deserves.
I would tell my younger self that it’s okay to show emotion and rely on friends and family for emotional support. Growing up in an abusive home, I always felt that I needed to display strength for my mother and I have now realised that true strength is being able to articulate my feelings and show them instead of allowing my emotions to gather indefinitely.
I would like to see a South Africa where it is a constitutional right for children born on South African soil to be granted citizenship by birth irrespective of their parent’s country of origin. This will facilitate a South Africa where all are welcome and the systematic suppression and abuse of foreign nationals by government departments and social groups are brought to an end. A country where the rule of law and the constitutional value of ubuntu is shared and experienced across self-created national divides.