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Compiled by Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor

Home Affairs has spent over R110 million on court battles in less than a year

Home Affairs has spent nearly R300m over the last five years on litigation.

Home Affairs’ seemingly endless court battles set the department back more than R110-million between April 2023 and the end of February this year.

This was revealed in a written parliamentary response by minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

He said the department accumulated a litigation bill of R117 692 996.3, higher than the R72 637 944.51 spent the year before.

ALSO READ: Motsoaledi advises Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders to ignore ‘false hope created by HSF’

Over the last five years the department has paid nearly R300-million (R295 258 713.51) on litigation.

Notable Home Affairs court cases

Among the biggest court battles Home Affairs is facing is over the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).

Cabinet took a decision in 2021 not to renew the permits when they expired in December 2021, but agreed to an extension by a year to grant Zimbabweans a chance to apply for alternative visas.

The Zimbabwe Immigration Federation took the department to court over the termination, asking for it to be declared unconstitutional and invalid.

It sparked a high profile case that saw delays, outrage, debate and appeals.

READ MORE: Helen Suzman Foundation slams Motsoaledi’s migration White Paper ‘failures’

In June last year, the court ruled against Motsoaledi, granting an interdict preventing the department from arresting, deporting and detaining any person who doesn’t possess a valid ZEP.

Motsoaledi, applied for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeals. This was dismissed but he later applied for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Home Affairs blocking IDs

In January, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found the department’s blocking of South African IDs to be unjust invalid and inconsistent with the constitution.

The matter was brought to court by Phindile Mazibuko, who was affected by the practice, Lawyers for Human Rights and LegalWise South Africa.

In her ruling, judge Elmarie van der Schyff ordered the department to pay the costs of the application, including the costs of two counsels.

Home Affairs vs asylum seekers

In February the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed an application against Home Affairs by asylum seekers who claimed they were arrested unlawfully.

The applicants claimed they had been persecuted in Ethiopia and settled in South Africa but before they could apply for asylum they were arrested.

The court found their detention lawful and “the mere expression of an intention to apply for asylum does not trigger constitutional protections”.