This followed a decision by Pretoria recently to discontinue the issuance of special permits for about 178 000 holders of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) which will expire at the end of this month.
Under the new order, Zimbabweans are allowed to migrate to other permits which suit their situation between January 1 and December 31 next year. After that, those who do not have permits would be expected to return home or they will be deported.
In a statement yesterday, Home Affairs Director-General, Mr Livhuwani Tommy Makhode advised institutions including schools, banks, and employers to allow the affected ZEP holders to continue with normal services during the 12 months grace period starting next month.
However, this is subject to the production of proof that one has lodged a permit application at the Department of Home Affairs.
“All companies, employers, learning institutions and banks are to kindly note that the applicants who are in possession of a ZEP permit expiring on December 31, 2021, must be allowed to continue with their services, provided they submit proof of application for a mainstream visa in terms of the Immigration Act and Regulations.
Proof of application must be a VFS receipt,” said Mr Makhode.
“All applicants with a ZEP must be allowed to travel freely in and out of South Africa until 31 December 2022, when the 12 months grace period ends, after which they will only be allowed to travel in and out of South Africa if in possession of a valid visa.
The contents of this directive must be brought to the attention of all officials concerned.”
He said during the 12 months grace period, ZEP holders must apply for mainstream visas that they qualify for and ensure that the applications conform with the provisions of the neighbouring country’s immigration laws.
Mr Makhode said those who fail to comply or won’t be successful will have to leave South Africa or risk deportation.