Expired Zim Exemption Permits Matter Not Urgent – High Court

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The high court in Pretoria has removed applications by Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders from its roll of urgent matters.

Late on Christmas Eve, two organisations representing the interests of ZEP holders launched urgent applications in the high court.

At the heart of the dispute is the decision taken by the Home Affairs minister not to renew the ZEP which expire on Friday and impose a condition giving a 12-month grace period during which time holders need to regularise their stay in South Africa.

The relief sought by these two groups was the issuance of a permanent residency permit for ZEP holders.

The court was also requested to instruct the home affairs department to issue expired ZEP holders with visas, pending the review of the minister’s decision by the courts.

However, on Tuesday, African Amity’s and another group led by Bongani Nyathi, Gaston Ngulube, and Njabulo Ncube failed to persuade the court that the matter was urgent.

Commenting on the ruling, Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday welcomed the court’s decision to strike from the roll the matter of “urgent applications” by ZEP holders.

“It is common cause that there are many other groupings who are poised to take on review the decision on ZEP in the courts of law in the New Year,” said Motsoaledi.

“The department will defend the lawful, rational, and reasonable decision taken in my capacity as the minister.”  

Although the court ruled in favour of the minister and removed the African Amity’s matter from the roll, it reserved costs.

The minister said he intends to insist on punitive costs against African Amity.

In the matter of Bongani Nyathi, Gaston Ngulube and Njabulo Ncube, the court ordered the applicants to pay the minister and the department’s costs.