The repercussions for Zimbabwean nationals whose exemption permits (ZEPs) have expired and who do not apply for legal status in South Africa would be severe.
At a parliamentary briefing on Tuesday, where he updated lawmakers on the status of the ZEP process, Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi issued this warning.
Their government isn’t responsible for this; the buck stops with them. The same treatment will be given to them as would be given to an overstaying foreign national. “There are consequences for that,” he warned.
Motsoaledi told legislators he couldn’t provide any further information because the case is now pending in court.
He stated that in December 2021, he issued a directive informing the public of his decision to grant Zimbabwean nationals a 12-month extension of their exemptions so that they might apply for a visa under the Immigration Act.
According to Motsoaledi, the 178,000 individuals who now hold a ZEP are exempt from the standard immigration procedures since they are in possession of a special dispensation.
Having given people a year to apply for the other permits, “we decided it was time we terminate something we saw as temporary.”