Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says the department will oppose the Helen Suzman Foundation’s (HSF) urgent court application to halt the deportation of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.
The foundation’s application comes when the department’s appeal is still pending.
In a short statement released on Wednesday, Home Affairs spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza said,“ the department wishes to state that it will vigorously oppose the application.”
The foundation’s court application came after the recent announcement that the department planned to arrest and deport individuals living in the country without proper documentation.
“We don’t make noise when we conduct law enforcement operations. We move in and deport people,” Minister Motsoaledi was quoted on the department’s Facebook page.
In the recent case, the foundation and its associates want the court to enforce the interim High Court order preventing attempts to deport illegal immigrants.
“The foundation has been compelled to bring an urgent court application to safeguard the integrity of the judgment finding that the termination of the ZEP was unlawful and invalid.
“In the ordinary course, the leave to appeal process suspends the operation of the underlying order. In this case, the risk arises that the expiry date of the ZEP could be run down by running out the appeal process, meaning that there would be no real relief to be granted ZEP holders if that is the court’s unlimited determination,” said Nicole Fritz, Director of the Helen Suzman Foundation.
“HSF approached the minister asking that he agree to observe the protection extended to ZEP holders until the conclusion of the appeal process, but he refused. It is on this basis that we approached the court because the ZEP holders are at risk of being arrested and deported from December 31.”
A few months ago, the Gauteng High Court issued a verdict stating that the deportation of those under the ZEP was invalid, unlawful and unconstitutional.
The department has recently approached the Supreme Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling.
The ZEP case was brought to court by the HSF and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, challenging the department’s decision of not renewing the ZEP holders.
This means that permit holders who did not apply for an exemption or were not granted an exemption would have to be arrested and deported to Zimbabwe as they would be in the country illegally.
Currently, there are reportedly 178 000 ZEP holders in the country.