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Victory for ZEP Holders as Court Rules ZEP Termination Illegal

The permits will continue to be valid for an additional 12 months, extending until the end of June 2024.

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The Minister of Home Affairs’ decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit program has been deemed unlawful, unconstitutional, and void.

A full bench of three judges at the Pretoria High Court has ordered the minister to review the matter in accordance with a fair procedure that adheres to the applicable laws.


During this period of review, the permits will continue to be valid for an additional 12 months, extending until the end of June 2024.

Furthermore, individuals holding the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) will be safeguarded against arrest and deportation.

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The Helen Suzman Foundation and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa initiated the legal action after the minister’s announcement in 2021 regarding the termination of the program.

Despite granting subsequent extensions, the minister maintained his position that the 178,000 permit holders must either apply for alternative visas if they were eligible or return to their country of origin.

In the highly anticipated ruling on Wednesday, Judges Colleen Collis, Gcina Malindi, and Mandlenkosi Motha (as the court) highlighted that the minister had failed to seek input from those impacted before making the decision.

They emphasized that the initial call for representations was conducted “after the fact” and did not constitute a genuine consultation.

The judges stated that the invitation was essentially meaningless in terms of providing a meaningful opportunity for affected parties to have their voices heard.


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