South Africa has extended Zimbabwe exemption permits for another six months, until June 2023 giving reprieve to 200 000 immigrants staying in that country.
The South African government said it is receiving applications from Zimbabweans seeking to extend their visa and regularise their stay.
According to News24 only 6 000 out of 178 000 permit holders had submitted their bids to the Gauteng High Court.
Nearly 200 000 immigrants working in South Africa under the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) has been given until end of year to leave the country but the extension will allow more to apply.
In a statement Friday, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs confirmed the move.
“Affected Zimbabwean nationals another opportunity to apply for one or other visas and/or waivers provided for in the Immigration Act,” Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says.
After the expiry of the reprieve in June 2023, Motsoaledi said they will be no further extension.
“The DHA calls upon all the affected Zimbabweans nationals to make use of this window of opportunity and not wait for the last moment to lodge their applications as is the case now.”
As part of the reprieve, “no holder of the exemption may be arrested, ordered to depart or be detained for the purposes of deportation or deported…”
The permit holders are also allowed to enter or leave South Africa during the extension period.
Home Affairs spokesperson, home affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza says: “The minister is committed to affording the affected Zimbabwean nationals another opportunity to apply for one of the other visa or waivers provided in the Immigration Act,” reads the statement by Home Affairs.
Zimbabwean living and working in South Africa can breathe a sigh of relief as thousands battle to beat the June 2023 deadline.
South Africa hosts nearly 3 million Zimbabweans, most of who are in the country illegally.