ZEP Holders Scramble To Obtain Visas To Extend Stay In SA3 months ago
Some of the estimated 178 000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa on the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) are trying to use the waiver method to legally extend their stay in the neighbouring country.
A spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Bongani Mkhwanazi was quoted by EWN as saying many were using the waiver method to avoid reapplying in certain categories. Said Mkhwanazi:
In particular, trying to use the waiver method where they would request that the department must waive certain requirements because they would already be employed and earning gainfully.Feedback
[But] the visa website has proven to be very cumbersome. A lot of people are facing difficulties in booking slots, and timeouts on the website, and people are kicked out.
In January this year, ZEP holders who applied for waivers said the South African government had said nothing about the extension or responded to new applications.
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ZEP holders have until the end of June 2023 to obtain permission to stay in the country or face possible deportation.
On 29 November 2021, a directive was issued by the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirming the cabinet’s decision to discontinue the ZEP scheme.
The ZEP permits, which were due to expire on 31 December 2021, were automatically regarded as valid until 31 December 2022.
On 2 September 2022, the Minister of Home Affairs extended ZEP for an additional 6 months until 30 June 2023 to allow the holders to apply for one or another visa for which they may qualify in terms of the Immigration Act.
However, three civil rights groups have challenged this move in the Pretoria High Court.
The Pretoria High Court reserved its ruling in the battle between Home Affairs and civil groups but time is running out for thousands of Zimbabweans who may soon find themselves as illegal migrants in South Africa.
More: Pindula News
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