SA Court throws out Operation Dudula application in ZEPs case

The South African High Court has denied Operation Dudula’s attempt to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) challenging the non-extension of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs).

Operation Dudula is a South African organisation regarded as xenophobic as it has been associated with aggressively intimidating and targeting migrants.

The group blames the presence of migrants for many of South Africa’s socioeconomic problems.

HSF is a human rights organisation that filed a case with the High Court Division in Gauteng, South Africa, last year to overturn the decision not to prolong ZEPs on the grounds that the decision was unlawful and unreasonable.

This case will be heard on April 11 to 14 this year.

Before the case hearing in April, the All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa (ATDFASA) with Operation Dudula applied to intervene in the matter to  make their arguments when the case hearing starts (a normal procedure for people with an interest in the matter.)

The ZEPs cover around 178 000 Zimbabweans and will not be extended because the South African government provided ZEP holders a 12-month grace period to apply for another type of permit or leave the country by 2022.

South Africa temporarily extended ZEP holders’ stay until June of this year, after which Zimbabweans are expected to return home.

However, on February 10, 2023, the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa dismissed the application made by Operational Dudula for lacking merit and that it is based on speculation.

On the other hand, the application by ATDFASA -the truck drivers association, succeeded.

In its judgement, the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa said the “application by Operation Dudula to intervene in the main application is refused.”

“The application by All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa to intervene in the main application is granted and it is joined as the third respondent therein,” read the judgement.

“The aforementioned third respondent is directed to deliver any answering or supplementary affidavit that it may wish to deliver in the main application within 10 days from the date of this order. The costs of the third respondent’s application for intervention, shall be costs in the cause of the main application.”

The main application referred to here is the case launched by HSF in case no 32323/20233.

HSF has been joined by a second applicant the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA) as the second applicant in terms of an order of this court of September 16, 2022.

“The Minister (of Home Affairs) is the first respondent in the main application and the Director General (DG) of the Department of Home Affairs is the second respondent. The respondents oppose the main application but only the  DG has deposed to an answering affidavit.

“The relief claimed by HSF and CORMSA is for the decision to terminate the ZEPs be declared unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

The applicants also want the Minister of Home Affairs decision  be reviewed and set aside, while the matter is remitted back to the minister for reconsideration, following a fair process that complies with the requirements of Sections 3 and 4 of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA).

“Pending the conclusion of a fair process and the first respondent’s further decision, it is directed that: Existing ZEP’s shall be deemed to remain valid, ZEP holders will continue to enjoy the protections afforded by Immigration Directive 1 of 2021, No holder of exemption should be required to produce a valid exemption certificate or an authorisation letter to remain in SA contemplated in Section 32(2) of the Immigration Act when making an application for any category of the visas, including temporary residence visa.”

HSF and CORMSA also want the Minister of Home Affairs and any other parties “opposing this application to pay costs, jointly and severally, the other paying the other to be absolved.”

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