Court rules children of Zimbabweans be given 10 days to register for class


The Gauteng High Court ruled on Tuesday that children of Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders must be allowed to register for school within the next 10 days.

This was after the ZEP Holders Association (Zepha) brought an urgent application to the court, seeking to overturn the decision by some schools to deny registration to children of ZEP holders on the grounds that their parents’ legal status was uncertain.

The ZEP system, introduced more than a decade ago to regularise the status of Zimbabweans living and working in SA, is due to expire in June 2023. After this, permit holders will be required to have alternative visas to legally remain in SA.

The decision to terminate the ZEP system is being challenged in three separate court cases, all due to be heard in April, on the grounds that it would create a humanitarian catastrophe across the region. There are 178 000 ZEP holders in SA, many of whom will be required to leave voluntarily or face deportation unless they obtain alternative visas.

Tuesday’s high court ruling allows children of ZEP holders who are due to write matric in 2023 to be registered for exams within 10 days of the order.

The court order also allows all other children whose parents are ZEP holders, and who have been denied access to education because they do not have study permits, to enrol in schools for the current academic year.

Last week, the SA government indicated that it would not oppose the urgent application brought by Zepha to allow children of ZEP holders to enrol in school.

Zepha proceeded to court this week to have its application made an order of court.

The respondents in the case were the ministers and departments of basic education and home affairs, and Rand Park High School in Johannesburg, one of several schools claimed to have refused registration to children of ZEP holders.

Multiple court cases

This is one of several court cases being brought before the SA courts, seeking to protect the rights of Zimbabweans living and working in SA.

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Zepha says Zimbabweans face growing persecution and xenophobia in SA, as minority groups are scapegoated for deteriorating economic conditions.

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