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Friday, July 19, 2024

SA Home Affairs Loses ZEP Legal Battle

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The Department of Home Affairs has taken a hard knock, losing its legal battle over Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs).

The Helen Suzman Foundation and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) hauled Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi to court, challenging his termination of the ZEP under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (PAJA).

The crux of the challenge was that the Minister’s move was unlawful, unconstitutional, and would severely impact over 175,000 Zimbabwean nationals holding these permits.

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Many of these individuals have been living and working in Mzansi for more than a decade, relying on the ZEPs for their legal stay.

Fast forward to June 2023, the Pretoria High Court sided with the applicants, slamming the Minister’s decision as procedurally unfair and a violation of the constitutional rights of ZEP holders.

The court highlighted that the Minister botched the “notice and comment” process, rendering the decision procedurally irrational and uniform.

Norton Rose Fulbright, representing CoRMSA, noted, “The High Court’s decision was set aside and remitted back to the Minister to conduct a fair process that considers the views and interests of ZEP holders and the broader society.”

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Despite Minister Motsoaledi’s efforts to overturn the High Court’s ruling by appealing to both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, the Constitutional Court dismissed his application for special leave to appeal on 18 June 2024.

The apex court declared that the application had no reasonable grounds for success.

The experts have weighed in, stating, “The Minister of Home Affairs is now required to comply with the High Court’s order. Any future decisions regarding the ZEP must be made in a fair and just manner, ensuring that the views and interests of ZEP holders are adequately considered.”

For now, the ZEP remains in effect until 29 November 2025, giving the Zimbabwean community some much-needed relief and time to navigate their future in South Africa.

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