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Zimbabwean Exemption Permits don't need protecting

by Staff reporter
12 Nov 2023 at 14:19hrs | Views
Following a landmark ruling and repeated court procedures since September 2021, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) felt the need to approach the Pretoria High Court again to reinforce the rights of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits.

This action, according to GroundUp, was dismissed earlier this week because the court found there was no need for it. Judges Collis, Malindi and Motha of the High Court said their previous ruling in June, protected the rights of 178 000 ZEP holders from the Department of Home Affairs.

As we reported earlier this year, back in June 2023, the High Court overturned the controversial decision of the Home Affairs Minister to terminate ZEPs. Then, like now, it was the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA) which successfully challenged the ZEP termination ruling.

The ruling granted protection for 12 months while the Minister of Home Affairs conducted a fair and rational inquiry into Zimbabwean Exemption Permits. This time, court action sought an enforcement order against the minister who had indicated intent to appeal the ruling.

The Helen Suzman Foundation wants to protect ZEP holders with expiring permits while any appeal process plays out. Ultimately the confusion comes down to whether the June 2023 ruling was indeed temporary or final.

Accordingly, the three judges said their June 2023 judgment was not a final order and its aim was to merely preserve the status quo. "The rights of the ZEP holders as stated in the order are not definitive, in that they are subject to the determination by the minister and may be altered when the minister has conducted a fair hearing."

In a statement, the Helen Suzman Foundation welcomed the court's confirmation of protection till at least June 2024. However, the minister has put a different spin on proceedings. "This judgment must serve as a wake-up call to the affected Zimbabwean nationals to follow the procedures outlined by the minister to regularise their stay in the Republic and forget about false promises," said the minister.

Practically, this means any Zimbabwean Exemption Permits stay valid until 30 June 2024. ZEP holders may freely travel to and from South Africa and may not be arrested or deported on the basis of holding an expired permit.

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Source - thesouthafrican
More on: #ZEP, #Permit, #Court