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Home Affairs grants extension for Zimbabwe and Lesotho permit holders to 2025

New permits to be issued to the approximately 233,000 existing permit holders.

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Friday that new permits will be issued for holders of the Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP) and the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP), which will be valid for two more years, until 29 November 2025.

Motsoaledi faced a litany of litigation from civil society organisations challenging the decision to terminate the LEP (held by about 55,000 people) and the ZEP (held by about 178,000 people by year-end. The high court had already extended the ZEP to 28 June 2024.

Permit holders will be entitled to work, seek employment and conduct business.

Motsoaledi said the new exemption permits to be issued will expire on 29 November 2025.

However, holders will not be entitled to apply for permanent residence status and the new permits will not be renewable. A permit holder can also not change their status in the country and must disclose or register all their minor children born and staying in South Africa.

“It is clear that the Minister knew that his original decision was unreasonable, impractical and unenforceable,” said advocate Simba Chitando, one of the lawyers who took government to court.

“ZEP holders have built homes, lives, families in South Africa — doing so perfectly legally. They must be given the opportunity to plan for their lives and not be treated as if they are surplus. It is the minimum of what the Constitution and the rule of law demand,” said Nicole Fritz of the Helen Suzman Foundation, which also took Home Affairs to court.

Fritz welcomed the minister’s announcement.

“The announcement offers tremendous relief to [the permit holders] and their families who have lived in SA perfectly legally for the past 15 years, and have done so by scrupulously observing not only our immigration laws and regulations but all our laws, in that qualification for these permits has required police clearance,” she said.

“Still they have faced tremendous uncertainty and confusion since the minister announced, without notice, consultation or valid reason, the termination of the permits in 2021. This new decision announced today recognises the inherent dignity owed to people, and that is at the heart of our constitutional dispensation.” DM

First published by GroundUp.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Caroline de Braganza says:

    What worries me is that they are not allowed to apply for permanent residence despite having built a life here. Whst happens to them and their minor children born and living in South Africa after November 2025 as these permits are not renewable? They still live with a sword of Damocles over their heads despite their contribution to our society.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    Quite frankly, I’m delighted by this decision – but not because there was even a smidgen of intelligent insight from Motswaledi. No, because as a tiny employer with just 6 staff, I refuse to employ arrogant and entitled South Africans whose first move is to join a union. Four Zimbabweans and two Malawians work harder, cooperate with me, take care of our customers in the most friendly manner, and are grateful – as I am – that together we can make a decent living to feed our families. So, ANC, keep your pathetic BBBEE and iniquitous (failed) policies to yourselves, and get out of the way of decent people who are honest and have integrity.

  • Christopher Campbell says:

    These people don’t care that they are playing with peoples lives. The fact that DHA is a disaster confirms that the ANC cadres are only interested in themselves and couldn’t care less about how many people die so that they can feed a little. Unfortunately they’re never content with a little.

  • Missi Kjona says:

    I’m genuinely pleased with this decision, and it’s not because Motswaledi demonstrated any insightful thinking. Rather, as a small employer overseeing just six staff members, I am reluctant to hire South Africans who exhibit arrogance and entitlement by immediately joining a union. My experience with four Zimbabweans and two Malawians has been positive—they work diligently, collaborate effectively, provide excellent customer service, and express gratitude for the opportunity to earn a decent living to support their families. I prefer to distance myself from the ANC’s BBBEE policies and what I perceive as failed and unjust measures. Instead, I encourage the ANC to step aside and allow honest individuals with integrity to thrive without unnecessary hindrances.

  • Missi Kjona says:

    These individuals show a blatant disregard for the impact of their actions on people’s lives. The evident disaster that is DHA affirms that those affiliated with the ANC prioritize their own interests, showing little concern for the lives lost in pursuit of personal gain. Regrettably, their appetite for more is insatiable, and they are never satisfied with just a small share.

  • Missi Kjona says:

    Great Info

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