SA Court Silent On ZEP Judgement
1 June 2023
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By-Pretoria High Court is still to pass its judgement on the case of over 180 000 Zimbabweans living in that country with Zimbabwean Exemption Permits, with the Lawyers representing Zimbabweans saying they would appeal if the court rules in favour of the Government. 

ZEPHA legal counsel, Advocate Simba Chitando, is seeking the court to grant ZEP holders permanent residence in South Africa. 

ZEP expires on 30 June 2023, but there are no indications as to when the Pretoria High Court will deliver its ruling on the application by ZEPHA and other human rights organisations, such as the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF).

HSF has argued that the decision by South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs to terminate the ZEP scheme without proper public consultation is unlawful and wants the court to set aside the directive.

Asked on SABC News what the plan was if the court rules in favour of the South African Government, Chitando said:

The litigation has been brought not just by the Helen Suzman Foundation but also by several other parties.

If successful in that litigation… we will wait for the relief and the relief will give us direction about what will happen to the ZEP holders.

Some of the parties that have instituted the litigation sought permanent residence… which is what the institution I am representing is seeking while the Suzman Foundation wants the Government to reconsider their decision.

Either way, we are bound by the court decision and we do not know when it will take place.

If we are successful… the Government would have to take a decision on whether they are going to appeal the judgement and obviously if we are unsuccessful I can guarantee you that we would appeal the judgement that is not in favour of ZEP holders.

The Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) system was introduced more than a decade ago to regularise the status of Zimbabweans who were illegally in SA due to political and economic hardships at home.

The Department of Home Affairs last year announced that the ZEP system would be terminated in June 2023, by which time ZEP holders would have to apply for “regular” SA visas.

Several Lesotho nationals living and working under the so-called Lesotho Exemption Permit have likewise been told that their services are no longer required.