Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has announced the extension of exemption permits to Lesotho and Zimbabwe nationals living and working in South Africa, for another two years, ending November 29, 2025.
The Minister has said that about 54 653 Lesotho nationals and 178 000 Zimbabwean nationals have been granted the extension in line with Section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act.
He added that exemption permit holders would be entitled to move freely, work or seek employment during this period but noted that they would not be entitled to apply for permanent residence, irrespective of their period of stay in the country.
The extension comes after protracted court proceedings between the Department of Home Affairs and the Helen Suzman Foundation and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa.
Motsoaledi had alluded to easing the burden of the asylum system and the prevalence of economic migrants from both countries as the key catalysts towards this decision.
He added that his department was attuned to the reality that Lesotho and Zimbabwe nationals who continue to work and study in the country may have been affected by the previous exemption timeframe and highlighted the need to avoid the unfair treatment of the same category of foreigners in similar circumstances.
Motsoaledi also stressed that exemption permit holders applying for new permits must disclose and register all minor children born and staying in the country.
“I call upon all of the affected Zimbabwean and Lesotho nationals to make use of the windows of opportunity to apply for new exemption permits through VFS (Global),” Motsoaledi said.
He noted that this directive would be published in the Government Gazette on Monday.