Government proposes 'specialised' courts to deal with immigration issues
The government has proposed the establishment of “specialised” courts to deal with immigration in South Africa, says home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Speaking in parliament, Motsoaledi said his department was working on new, single legislation to address increasing immigration.
This comes amid a high court challenge to government's decision to not extend the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) when it ends on June 30.
“The number of illegal foreigners in South Africa is very high,” said Motsoaledi.
“The department of home affairs has completed its work on the immigration citizenship and refugee protection policy. This policy framework will be gazetted for public comments very soon.
“The three pieces of legislation, namely the Immigration Act of 2002, the South African Citizenship Act of 1995 and the Refugees Act of 1998, are obsolete and would be completely repealed.”
Motsoaledi said new legislation to deal with immigration citizenship and refugee protection will be introduced, as is the trend internationally.
“The new legislation will strengthen and set a high standard for the appointment of persons occupying bodies dealing with immigration and refugee protection procedures,” he said.
“The new single legislation will address all these difficulties, including establishment of specialised immigration courts. The current practice of migrants challenging unfavourable decisions in drawn-out court procedures would be discouraged in the new legislation.”
Last month, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) said Motsoaledi did not consider the harmful impact of his decision to end the ZEP.
The court heard three separate applications on the permits, which have allowed about 178,000 Zimbabweans to lawfully live in South Africa since 2009.
They were first introduced in response to a political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe that caused an exodus into South Africa. The permit regime was twice extended, in 2014 and 2017, but the government said it was always clear the permits were temporary.
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