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Zim Truckers Take Employer to Court After Being Fired for Allegedly Being Illegal Immigrants

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Eleven Zimbabwean truck drivers have taken their employer, Image Freight Logistics, to the Durban High Court to prevent the termination of their employment on the grounds of alleged illegal immigration.

The 11 Zimbabwean truck drivers hold valid Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP), which have been upheld until June 2024 by a recent Pretoria High Court ruling following a case brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation against the Department of Home Affairs.

In court documents filed with the Durban High Court, the truck drivers claim they were dismissed via a WhatsApp message based on false allegations that they lacked the appropriate work permits for employment in the trucking sector.

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The drivers are seeking an urgent interdict with the assistance of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association (Zepha) to prevent Image Freight Logistics from terminating their employment.

The ministers of Transport, Labour, and Home Affairs, as well as the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI), have also been named as respondents in the case.

Zepha reports that several trucking companies are terminating their Zimbabwean truck drivers, many of whom hold ZEPs, based on unfounded claims of undocumented foreign status.

“All ZEP holders are documented and have a lawful right to live and work in South Africa,” says a statement from Zepha.

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Read | Pretoria High Court Rejects Motsoalediā€™s Bid to Appeal ZEP Ruling

The Zimbabwe Exemption Permit allows approximately 180,000 Zimbabweans and their dependents to live, work, and study in South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs faced legal challenges earlier this year regarding its decision to terminate the permit system by June 2023, potentially leading to a humanitarian crisis.

In a case brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation, the Pretoria High Court declared all ZEP permits valid until June 2024 and referred the matter back to the department for reconsideration.

This situation follows a circular by the industry bargaining council on October 24, urging employers to cease hiring foreign truck drivers as it is not considered a scarce skill and could help address unemployment and unrest.

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The court papers emphasize that the industry bargaining council lacks the authority to enforce immigration laws or assume the powers of the police and highlights that ZEP holders have the lawful right to live and work in South Africa.

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