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South Africa to “punish” Zimbabweans not applying for visas or waivers

South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has declared war on Zimbabwean nationals who are reluctant to apply for visas and/or waivers following the extension of the validity of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) to 30 June next year.

Motsoaledi told the SA Parliament on Tuesday that the (ZEP) holders who do not apply to be in his country legally would be “punished”.

“The ball is in their court, not in the government’s court. We will deal with them the same way we deal with someone who is in the country illegally and overstayed. There is punishment for that,” he said.

Motsoaledi extended the validity of ZEP to 30 June next year citing that few foreigners had “thus far applied for visas and/or waivers.”

The initial expiry date for the permits was 31 December. But in a statement, the minister was advised by the Departmental Advisory Committee (DAC) led by Dr Cassius Lubisi to extend ZEP to allow the affected nationals enough time to get necessary documents.

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“As previously communicated, The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) appointed the Departmental Advisory Committee (DAC) led by Dr Cassius Lubisi to assess the visa applications lodged by the affected Zimbabwean nationals,” read the statement.

“The DHA also appointed an outside legal firm to handle all court challenges relating to the decision not to extend the exemptions granted to the Zimbabwean nationals and related matters.

“The Minister of Home Affairs (Minister) received a progress report from Dr Cassius Lubisi. The report states that the DAC has met on several occasions in order to execute its mandate, and their last meeting was held for the whole day on the 1st of September 2022.

“The DAC recommended to the Minister that in view of the progress thus far, it will be prudent for the Minister to consider extending the period within which the affected Zimbabwean nationals will have an opportunity to apply for visas and/or waivers for a further six months

“The Minister has carefully considered the request and decided to extend the period by a further six months, that is, 31 December 2022 to 30 June 2023. Another factor considered by the Minister is that few Zimbabwean nationals have thus far applied for visas and/or waivers. To this end, the Minister has issued another Directive.”

Home Affairs further stated that the Minister was committed to affording the affected Zimbabwean nationals another opportunity to apply for one or other visas and/or waivers provided for in the Immigration Act.

It was further stated that the directive containing the decision of the Minister would be communicated through diplomatic channels to the Zimbabwean Ambassador in South Africa.