Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders in South Africa will this week learn of their fate when their case is heard by a full bench at Pretoria High Court starting today.

The full bench will hear the case until Friday.

The Helen Suzman Foundation approached the courts seeking to overturn South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s decision to terminate the permits.

If the minister’s decision is upheld, the permits will be terminated on June 30 this year.

The ZEPs are special permits issued in terms of South Africa’s Immigration Act that allows approximately 178 000 holders and their children temporary legal status to live, work and study in that country.

It is the third iteration of a permit that began back in 2009 as the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP), which the South African government introduced to cope with an influx of undocumented Zimbabweans fleeing political violence and an economic crunch around 2008.

The DZP was later renamed the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) in 2014, which was in turn changed to ZEP in 2017.