This week’s Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ruling which deemed Home Affairs’ decision not to extend the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) as unconstitutional, will effectively give permit holders a further 12 months to work and live in the country.
The court has set aside Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's decision, providing further relief to ZEP holders after the department had extended the permits until December 2023.
According to law firm, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH), ZEP holders can continue to work and reside in SA for the next 12 months.
The judgment was delivered on Wednesday, declaring Motsoaledi’s decision not to extend the ZEP permits to be invalid, unlawful, and unconstitutional.
"While the above judgment provides further relief to ZEP holders and their families, it remains to be seen whether the minister will appeal the judgment and or when he will commence a fair process to terminate ZEPs.
"Until then, ZEP holders and their families can breathe a little easier for the next 12 months, while continuing to work and reside in South Africa.
“Similarly, employers do not need to address the continued employment of their employees in possession of ZEPs for at least the next 12 months," said Hedda Schensema, director in the employment law practice of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
The decision was referred back to the Minister of Home Affairs for reconsideration, pursuant to following a fair process which complies with sections 3 and 4 of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
Pending the conclusion of a fair process, and the minister's further decision within 12 months, existing ZEPs shall remain valid for the next 12 months, they may not be arrested, ordered to deport or detained in terms of section 34 of the Act.
They are allowed to enter into and depart the Republic of South Africa in terms of section 9 of the Act.
They will not be required to produce an exemption certificate or authorisation letter in order to remain in the Republic of South Africa.
Motsoaledi has indicated that he would appeal the judgment, describing it as dangerous precedent.