JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Home Affairs department said this was the last time it was extending visa applications for Zimbabwe after adding six extra months to the application process.
After a legal challenge, the Home Affairs was advised to – extend the application deadline for the special Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).
Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said he “decided to extend the Zimbabwean exemptions granted to Zimbabwean nationals for a further period of 6 months” using the powers bestowed upon his office in terms of section 31(2)(b), read with section 31 (2)(d) of the Immigration Act.
Motsoaledi said the extension was done in order “to allow the holders thereof to apply for one or other visas provided for in the Immigration Act” that they may qualify for.
He directed that the latest decision be implemented as follows, during the further six months’ period, from 31 December 2022, ending on 30 June 2023:
- No holder of the exemption may be arrested, ordered to depart or be detained for purposes of deportation or deported in terms of the section 34 of the Immigration Act for any reason related to him or her not having any valid exemption certificate (i.e permit label / sticker) in his or her passport. The holder of the exemption permit may not be dealt with in terms of sections 29, 30 and 32 of the Immigration Act
- The holder of the exemption may be allowed to enter into or depart from the Republic of South Africa in terms of section 9 of the Act, read together with the Immigration Regulations, 2014, provided that he or she complies with all other requirements for entry into and departure from the Republic, save for the reason of not having valid permit indicated in his or her passport; and
3. No holder of exemption should be required to produce —
(a) a valid exemption certificate;
(b) an authorisation letter to remain in the Republic contemplated in section 32(2) of the Immigration Act when making an application for any category of the visas, including temporary residence visa.
The latest directive by the Home Affairs department means that Zimbabwean nationals have until June 30 next year to apply.
The minister also revealed that few have applied so far – and if they waive this extension – Zimbabwean nationals working in South Africa without a visa will be considered illegal immigrants.