The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has taken swift action by filing an urgent application in the High Court against Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi and his department to counter the “mass deportation” of illegal immigrants in the country.
This development comes in response to Motsoaledi’s recent announcement that his officials would be intensifying law enforcement operations aimed at deporting individuals residing in the country without proper documentation.
In a social media message posted by the department last month, Motsoaledi reaffirmed his unwavering stance on illegal immigration, stating, “Our law enforcement operations are carried out discreetly, and individuals are deported promptly. We are extending our efforts to various communities to deport those who are residing here without the necessary documentation.”
This announcement comes less than three months after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, consisting of a full Bench, ruled on June 28 that the decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) was invalid, unlawful, and unconstitutional. This decision was a result of an application filed in April by the HSF and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, contesting Motsoaledi’s December 2021 decision to discontinue the ZEP.
The discontinuation of the ZEP had significant implications for permit holders who did not apply for an exemption or were not granted one, forcing them to return to Zimbabwe after calling South Africa their home for over a decade.
In their most recent court application scheduled for September 18, the foundation, in collaboration with the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, is seeking an “interim enforcement” order from the High Court to halt the ongoing efforts to deport illegal immigrants.
Public Reactions and Criticisms
Despite these organizations’ efforts to prevent mass deportations, some members of the public have criticized their recent court challenge, particularly in light of the tragic fire incident at a hijacked building in Johannesburg that claimed the lives of 77 people and the adverse effects of illegal zama zama mining operations.
User Lolo Taunyane expressed skepticism, stating, “Nicole Fritz cannot win every case, using the money allocated to her as an NPO. HomeAffairsSA now has solid proof regarding the negative effects of illegal immigration. They must use the #JHBFire and #zamazama humanitarian catastrophes as reliable points of comparison. Moreover, why does the state use our tax money to support the Helen Suzman Foundation? These NPOs ought to be permanently outlawed.”
Human Trafficking Syndicate Uncovered
Meanwhile, in a troubling development that points to a potential human trafficking syndicate operating in Ekurhuleni, Motsoaledi confirmed on Friday that his department had uncovered a residence in Primrose where more than 100 undocumented immigrants were discovered.
These immigrants were subsequently apprehended, with the majority of them being Ethiopians and four hailing from Malawi. Shockingly, only four of these individuals possessed any form of documentation, and the owner of the property was also detained at the Primrose police station.
This arrest is part of the department’s broader crackdown on illegal foreign nationals, conducted in collaboration with other government agencies, including the South African Police Service (SAPS).