South Africa saves 178 000 Zimbabwe nationals from imminent deportation in dramatic last-minute move

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South Africa Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

The South African government has extended the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits due to expire on June 30 for another 6 months. Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the extension to give permit holders time to apply for visas and waiver provided under immigration law.

During this extension period, holders of valid exemption permits will not be arrested, ordered to leave South Africa or detained for deportation even if their permits have expired. They will still be allowed to enter and leave the country if they meet other immigration requirements.

Bongani Mkhwananzi, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, welcomed the extension. He praised the South African government for giving permit holders a chance to regularize their status.

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However, he urged permit holders to use the extension period to migrate to mainstream permits, not just stay temporarily. He encouraged them to continue applying for waivers as the minister has said he is signing these daily.

Around 178,000 Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders currently live and work in South Africa. The 6-month extension will give them time to apply for alternative immigration status.

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