Coming under fire following its decision to approach the courts to obtain an order to prevent the government from acting against holders of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP), the Helen Suzman Foundation says the move is not meant to prevent the South African government from deporting illegal immigrants.
The foundation, which has become famous for its series of litigations against the government, says its move to approach the courts is solely to safeguard the lawful rights of ZEP holders to remain in the country while the matter is being appealed by the government after its initial decision was declared unlawful and set aside.
This is contained in a statement the foundation issued on Tuesday, as its work was increasingly getting heavily scrutinised by the likes of Gayton McKenzie, the leader of the Patriotic Alliance (PA), a party known for its tough stance against illegal immigration.
McKenzie even took to X (formerly Twitter) and called on the South African government to revoke the permit of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) named after Helen Suzman, a liberal who fought the apartheid government from within its systems.
The foundation said it took exception to what it called "falsehood being put out by a shadowy organisation calling itself Put South Africa First" regarding the latest court application.
"The suggestion that the HSF has brought an application to prevent the Minister from deporting illegal immigrants is not only malicious but dangerous, coming as it does hard on the heels of incendiary attempts to heap the blame for last week’s devastating fire in Johannesburg’s city centre not on those truly responsible but absurdly on NGOs," the foundation said in its statement.
It added that South Africans should be reminded of the stellar role NGOs have played in safeguarding the country’s democracy.
"No one should have to be reminded of the role that NGOs have played in this country in protecting rights and fighting corruption and criminality. Coordinated attempts to discredit NGOs and erode the public’s trust through lies and misrepresentation are an attack on democracy itself," it said.
As the outrage grew over the foundation’s latest application, the Department of Home Affairs issued a brief statement in which it said it "will vigorously oppose the application“.