Home Affairs has spent more than R110 million on legal cases in less than a year

Home Affairs has spent almost R300 million on legal cases in the last five years.

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

This is evident from a written parliamentary response from Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

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

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Over the past five years, the department has paid out almost R300 million (R295,258,713.51) in lawsuits.

Notable legal cases in the field of domestic affairs

One of the biggest lawsuits facing Home Affairs concerns the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).

Cabinet took the decision in 2021 not to renew the permits when they expired in December 2021, but agreed to a one-year extension to allow Zimbabweans to apply for alternative visas.

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

It led to a high-profile case with delays, outrage, debate and appeals.

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In June last year, the court ruled against Motsoaledi and issued an injunction prohibiting the ministry from arresting, deporting and detaining anyone who does not possess a valid ZEP.

Motsoaledi has applied for permission to appeal to the High Court. This was rejected, but he later applied for permission to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Home Affairs blocks IDs

In January, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that the department’s blocking of South African IDs was wrongly invalid and unconstitutional.

The case was taken 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 legal costs, including the costs of two lawyers.

Home Affairs versus asylum seekers

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

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

The court ruled that their detention was lawful and that β€œthe mere expression of the intention to seek asylum does not give rise to constitutional protection.”