Stefanie M de Saude
Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi is one of the country’s foremost immigration law experts and a champion for human rights. As the founder of De Saude Attorneys, Stefanie applies her experience and passion for the equitable distribution of justice in the service of a broad range of corporate, private and pro bono clients. Her activism and legal skill has directly led to changes in the laws governing immigration and residency in South Africa, promoting access to justice for those born in South Africa and those who want to make the country their home.
Immigration has become one of the leading political issues for countries around the world. The UK’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency has opened the door for a new wave of anti-immigration rhetoric that is increasingly finding its way to South Africa’s narrative. Gut-wrenching images and stories of migrants taking perilous journeys to reach new, more politically or economically stable countries have made headlines worldwide. That these vulnerable people are then met with aggressive anti-immigration policies and measures – including wrenching children away from their parents and putting them in internment camps – is a tragic failure of the principles of justice and human rights.
Witnessing first-hand how damaging the immigration process can be when her father emigrated to South Africa during her youth, Stefanie made a personal choice to specialise in immigration law and contribute to a more just and equitable legal environment for immigrants.
Thanks largely to the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) on-going inefficiency, maladministration and thoughtless application of prevailing laws, Stefanie’s work has evolved from mostly administrative law to a powerful form of legal activism that positions immigration and residency as constitutional matters, not purely administrative ones.
Her work in supporting people seeking permanent residency and immigration visas through legal means has directly led to a series of court cases challenging DHA officials to fulfil their constitutional mandate and expedite the delivery of justice to foreigners and residents alike. Victory in such cases has directly led to court orders forcing DHA to revise their application of our laws and regulations, or simply to comply with legal principles that are already established. She has effected changes in legislation and has mobilised various public offices in her support, including the Public Protector, reinforcing her commitment to the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the basic tenets of our fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
Stefanie’s selflessness extends to her personal life, where she supports her parents and two siblings while juggling the needs of her firm with that of her husband and three young children. Stefanie lives in Cape Town.