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ZEP holders win as court invalidates permit termination

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The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria declared Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) as unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

The court’s judgement comes after the Helen Suzman Foundation challenged Motsoaledi’s decision, after he announced last year that the special dispensation would be discontinued.

The ZEP is a special permit issued in terms of the Immigration Act, that allows its holders and their children temporary legal status to live, work and study in South Africa. The permit was introduced by the South African government to cope with an influx of undocumented Zimbabweans between 2009 and 2017.

The full bench set aside Motsoaledi’s decision to terminate the special dispensation and ordered that Motsoaledi reconsider the matter. The court also ordered that the ZEP be valid for a further 12 months.

The Helen Suzman Foundation had hauled Motsoaledi to court with the foundation’s legal counsel arguing that the minister did not consult with the holders of the permit before his decision and asked the court to declare it invalid.

Earlier this month, the minister granted a six month extension that is scheduled to end in December 2023.

ZEP holders will continue to enjoy the protection, namely that no holder may be arrested or detained for the purposes of deportation.

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