Zimbabwe exemption permits court challenge set for April
Several South African lobby groups met on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming court bid to oppose the SA government’s decision to scrap the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP).
The case is set to be heard at the High Court in Pretoria from 11 to 14 April. The event was organized by the UCT Refugee Rights Unit and the Centre for European Policy Studies.
Speaking at the event a lawyer representing the applicants in the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) court bid said the SA Minister of Home Affairs failed to consider the Constitutional rights of children born and raised in South Africa in the decision to scrap the permits. He said:
The core relief is to get the decision to terminate the ZEP and that some form of interim measures be in place to protect ZEP holders until the minister can take a proper decision.
Almost 180 000 permit holders now face deportation if they cannot find alternative legal permission to live in South Africa.
Portia (not her real name) who has a Ph.D. in Law at the University of Cape Town (UCT), said the SA government’s decision has drained her emotionally. Portia, who moved to South Africa when she was 16 years old and is currently doing a post-doc at UCT, said: How can I be in a country, where I came as a minor and be expected to pack my bags to go to Zimbabwe?
My attachment to Zimbabwe is not as strong as it is to South Africa. My whole education was in South Africa… I obtained my Bachelor’s degree, Masters and completed Ph.D. using ZEP. … I can’t explain how much this fiasco is affecting me mentally and my career.
Tendai (not his real name), said he has been teaching science at a high school for 13 years. His son is doing his second year at university and his daughter is in matric this year. He said: We were considered supporters of the opposition party MDC and so I ran away and to South Africa. My youngest child was two and my son was in grade 2. I have contributed a lot to South African society and have been a loyal taxpayer. This is where my life is centred.
I have built my whole life around Cape Town. Going back to Zimbabwe at this time – I don’t know where I would start. How’s my daughter going to finish school? I will fail to provide for my child. Am I going to terminate my children’s education so that she doesn’t have a future anymore? The emotional stress we have to go through [is too much].
The SA government gave ZEP holders until the end of June 2023 to apply to remain in South Africa on a critical skills permit, though very few of them meet the stringent critical skills criteria.
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