South African Home Affairs officials at the Verification Visa Centres are reportedly demanding bribes from desperate Zimbabweans seeking to submit applications to regularise their stay in the neighbouring country beyond the expiry of their Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).

ZEP grace period has been extended to December 2023.

As reported by Newshawks, the official submission fee for ZEP waivers is R1 550, which is deposited into the bank account of the respective Verification Visa Centres.

The money is paid before one physically visits the centres to submit hard copies of the ZEP waiver applications.

However, Home Affairs officials at these centres are demanding extra cash of about R1 000 upon arrival of applicants as a pre-condition for accepting their applications.

The ZEP program began when the South African government granted “special dispensation” for Zimbabweans who were in the country illegally.

Many of these having had fled violence and economic instability in Zimbabwe.

The South African government replaced Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans with Zimbabwean Special Permits in 2014 and again in 2017 with the introduction of the ZEP.

ZEP holders must secure a different visa by December 31, 2023, in order to stay in South Africa legally unless extended.

This publication will continue to monitor developments regarding the visa extensions and provide more information as it becomes available.