ZEP Nightmare: Zimbabweans facing mass deportation from South Africa as waiver applications stall


Many Zimbabweans in South Africa are struggling to obtain waivers that would allow them to remain in the country legally. Around 178,000 Zimbabweans holding Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs) are at risk of deportation if a court case challenging the scrapping of the permit fails.

Some Zimbabweans like Stella Makande, a teacher who has lived in South Africa for 15 years, have spent thousands of rands trying to get labour exemptions or waivers that would allow them to stay. While the Home Affairs department is processing hundreds of waivers daily, Makande claims she has been waiting since last September when the minister announced ZEP holders could apply.

Makande was already preparing to spend another R13,000 on her application when the waiver option was announced. The waiver application process has been slow and lacking communication from Home Affairs. If Makande’s bid fails, she and her teenage son will have to return to Zimbabwe for the first time in 15 years, with a June 30 deadline looming.

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