Written evidence from Miss Shelley Joubert (NBB0013)



My name is Shelley Joubert. I was born in Durban, Kwazulu Natal South Africa in March 1979.


I was raised as a single child by my Saint Helena Island born mother and my maternal grandparent who were born and married on Saint Helena Island in June 1942


They left the Island in the 1950's via ship as my grandfather was offered a job as a plumber in Durban and saw a better opportunity for his family as those years ago, the Island was rather barren.  Even though they lived in South Africa, the Island remained a big part of their lives with family still there and in constant contact, I was also taught very old school values with Saint Helena Island being the roots of my upbringing.


My grandfather was born in March 1914, my grandmother in February 1918 and my mother was born in April 1943.


Roughly 3 years ago I decided it was time to dig into my roots and apply for my rights left for me by my mother and grandparent and proudly over the course of a year collected all relevant documents required to submit my application.


I submitted my application and to my surprise was granted Saint Helena Status via Vertue, as I am the child of a Saint Helena born Citizen, along with the update below. In a nutshall because I was born to an unmarried, divorced BOTC mother and obviously being female I don't qualify, yet had I been born to a BOTC Father, a different story!


We are currently in 2021 - the times have changed drasticlly and yet an outdated BNA is what still speaks, this does not make any sense as to why this act has not been updated and amended as the years have gone by.  I am sure you have heard of the violence and unrest we are experiencing in South Africa, yet I cannot leave here and join up with my 24 year old daughter who is currently in the UK on an Ancestry Visa via her paternal grandmother, all because of and old outdated BNA and the fact that it seems I was born to the wrong gender BOTC parent.


Kind Regards



Hi Shelley,



To qualify for St Helenian status a person must first qualify for British Dependent Territories Citizenship - we use the British Nationalities Act (BNA) to ascertain this.  We use the dates of birth of the person in question to refer to the relevant BNA.


In response to your email below I can confirm that your mother and grandparents qualified as follows:


British Subjects – Part 1. 1. (1) (a) Any person born within His Majesty’s dominions and allegiance – under the British Nationalities Act 1914.

Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies – 12. (I) (a) ….born within the territories… - transitional under the British Nationalities Act 1948

British Dependent Territories Citizen – 23. (1) (a) immediately before commencement he was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who had that citizenship by his birth…..in a dependent territory – acquisition at commencement under the British Nationalities Act 1981.


Your mother and grandparents were all born in St Helena thus they all qualified as British Dependent Territories Citizens (BDTC) under the British Nationalities Act 1981. 


As you were born 1979 we referred to the previous 1948 British Nationalities act.  The 1948 act gives preference to the male line (as was very common to do with a lot of situations in those days).  You didn’t  gain status because of the following clause in the BNA 1948 5 (I) “Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth:…”   the key word being “father.”  So basically what this means is that if your father was born in St Helena you might have qualified for British Overseas Territories Citizenship, however your father is unknown and unfortunately descent cannot be passed to you via your mother, and you yourself was not born in St Helena.  I understand you might think this unfortunate and unfair but this was the law in those days and the repercussions still resonate.


You don’t qualify as a BDTC but as the child of a person born in St Helena you have been granted St Helenian Status.  As I have explained in my previous email to you, the St Helenian status is a belonging status which will only give you the right to live and work in St Helena, it does not extend to the UK.   If you are still doubting the above I would advise that you visit your nearest British Embassy or go online to find out the requirements for visiting the UK.


I hope the above helps.  Please feel free to contact me should you need any further assistance.