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Reprieve for Zimbabweans in South Africa Seeking Permits

Zimbabweans who had applied for the South African special dispensation permits and had not yet received them by Tuesday, which was the final day, have been given a two-week lifeline by the government.

Zimbabweans living in South Africa, who want to work and go to school legally in the country, are required to have the permits which were renewed starting in October last year. The permits are valid for three years.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said it received more than 240,000 applications and nearly half of them had not yet received them by the expected date which has forced authorities to change the deadline.

Said the Ministry in a statement earlier this year: "It is a special dispensation permit. It should not be compared to an application for asylum to which everyone is entitled. Not every application is going to be successful. There are some requirements to be met. If an applicant does not meet the requirements, the application will be rejected. It is difficult to satisfy everyone; people will always have a story."

Although only 240 000 people applied for the permits, it is estimated that Zimbabwean living in South Africa are more than two million.

Ngqabutho Mabhena of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa said the assumption by the Ministry of Home Affairs was that by Tuesday all permits would have been collected.

He said the ministry has been of late reviewing the rejected 12,000 applicants. “All those are under review.”

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