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SA court declares termination of Zimbabwean Exemption Permit unlawful

Zimbabweans in South Africa breathed a sigh of relief after a Gauteng High Court in Pretoria declared unconstitutional and invalid, the cancellation of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP).

The South African government made a decision to end a special dispensation that affects about 178,000 Zimbabweans. Earlier this month, it granted a six-month extension, allowing holders of the work permits to remain in South Africa until the end of the year.

The Helen Suzman Foundation, a civil-rights group dragged the Department of Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to court challenging the decision citing that it was made without public consultation.

Accordingly, three judges, sitting as a full bench in the Pretoria High Court reviewed the Minister’s decision and remitted it back to him for reconsideration. The court also directed that ZEP permist shall remain valid for the next 12 months.

Technically, the court directed the Minister to reconsider the issue “following a fair process” that complies with the relevant laws.

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South Africa recently witnessed an increase in the number of visa applications by Zimbabwean nationals seeking to regularize their stay.

This led to the decision by the Department of Home Affairs earlier this month to grant a six-month extension, allowing holders of the work permits to remain in the country until the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the latest High Court decision means that ZEP holders enjoy the protection of not being arrested or ordered to depart or detained for the purposes of deportation.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are leaving their country due to the socio-economic crisis which has been ravaging Zimbabwe for over two decades.