Zim students offered reprieve in SA

Hundreds of Zimbabwean students in South Africa have been granted permission to enroll at local universities, despite their study permits still not being issued by that countrys Home Affairs department.

Students have been turned away from registering at various tertiary institutions, which have been insisting that the students produce valid study permits. This is despite South African authorities still adjudicating more than 270,000 applications for permits, made by Zimbabweans trying to regularise their stay in the country. Thousands of Zim nationals are still waiting to hear if their applications are successful, with the process set to be completed in June.

South African authorities have extended their moratorium on deportations of Zimbabweans until the process is completed later this year. But many Zim nationals have reported unfair treatment because they dont have their proper documents yet, only receipts that they applied for permits. Last week, a pregnant Zimbabwean woman was refused treatment at a Cape Town hospital, because she couldnt produce her work permit.

Refugee rights group PASSOP has been calling on the Department of Home Affairs to communicate with hospitals and other state institutions and explain the ongoing documentation process. The department has now agreed to allow Zim students, who applied for study permits and still have not received them, to register for their university courses.

PASSOPs Braam Hanekom told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that the news comes as a relief for many. He said that many students faced losing their places at university because the permits are taking so long to be issued.

We sat down with the Director-General of Home Affairs, Mr. Mkuseli Apleni, and he has confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) that Zimbabwean students with pending study permit applications will be granted the chance to commence their studies, Hanekom said.

He added: This decision is very welcome as it allows many hundreds of students across the country to take up their offers of study. We are now appealing to universities and other tertiary institutions to show the necessary leniency in the registration of Zim students in this situation.

Hanekom explained that a process has been put in place for university staff to follow, to prevent people with fraudulent permit application receipts from taking advantage of the situation. The universities have been asked to directly email Director General Apleni, with the names of the students trying to register for study, to confirm that theyve been offered a place at the institution. The Director Generals office has committed itself to replying to each email within 48 hours to confirm that the students have actually applied for permits.

Hanekom added that there is still difficulty in the situation because each institution has its own bureaucracy to deal with.

But at least now they cant use the documentation issues as a reason to turn Zim students away, Hanekom said.

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