Terminating ZEP without proper public consultation unlawful, HSF tells court

The Zimbabwe Exemption Permit was first introduced more than 10 years ago and was extended twice since then.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF)'s legal team on Tuesday said terminating the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) programme without proper public consultation is unlawful.

The ZEP was first introduced more than 10 years ago and was extended twice since then.

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi announced that after it expires this coming June, it will not be extended again though.

This means that some 178,000 Zimbabwean migrants living in South Africa will be affected.


- Zimbabweans living in SA fear the worst as ZEP expiry date inches closer

- Terminating Zim permit could put thousands at risk - Helen Suzman Foundation

- Scrapping of ZEP will benefit some permit holders - Motsoaledi

The Pretoria High Court is currently hearing a challenge that the HSF brought against the looming expiry of the ZEP.

In his opening address, Advocate Steven Budlender, for the foundation, said the termination of the ZEP programme stood to upend the lives of people who had been in the country legally for several years.

"We have a decision which is going to fundamentally change people’s lives and it’s a decision which was taken without any attempt to hear them first - common cause. It’s a decision which the minister has told these people repeatedly he will not reconsider."

Budlender argued that neither ZEP holders or South Africans at large were given the chance to make any meaningful representations before the decision was taken.

He said that it was as a result, unlawful.

"In a constitutional dispensation can a minister say to people who’ve been here 13 years lawfully: 'I’m going to decide your fate, I'm going to put in place a decision which is going to decide your fate and which requires you effectively to leave the country' - without hearing them first?

"And we say, no. We say if the Constitution means anything, and if PAJA (Promotion of Administrative Justice Act) means anything and if the principle of legality means anything that could never be a proper view."