The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit case, which affects 180 thousand Zimbabwean directly, millions indirectly, has been sabotaged by powerful people who have been trying to tilt the scales of justice against the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association (“ZEPHA”) by cutting off funding and intimidating our legal team. This is a matter where the international community, and like-minded human rights activists, should support ZEPHA, and prevent a miscarriage of justice in South Africa.
Two days ago, I was informed that ZEPHA had all of its funding summarily withdrawn days before the 11 April 2023 hearing after ZEPHA successfully obtained a Court order in the Pretoria High Court on 31 January 2023, which enabled ZEP children to attend school. The timing is cruel. The South African government has billions of Rands for litigation. ZEPHA has zero. This is the largest immigration case in World history. ZEPHA is the only party in Court asserting the right of Zimbabweans to become permanent residents after lawfully contributing to the South African economy for more than 12 years but have been cut off entirely. The imbalance in funding, and the intimidation, is part of a well organised effort by powerful people to weaken ZEPHA before the battle set down for April 2023 in the Pretoria High Court.
These people are unhappy with ZEPHA’s track record in Court, which includes: the 31 January 2023 Court order for ZEP children, the 14 December 2021 withdrawal of Immigration Directive 11, which target ZEP bank accounts, jobs, and academic placements. They cannot beat us in Court, so they have deployed men in the shadows to cut funding.
On 2 September 2022, the day that the ZEP was extended to 30 June 2023, my ex-wife was kidnapped by men claiming to be members of the South African government, but senior members of the South African High Priority Crimes Unit investigating the incident cannot identify of find them. These men sexually harassed her, pressured her to give evidence against me, which she refused, and defeated the ends of justice acting on orders from their superiors. She filed a criminal case, but there have been no arrests even though this took place in public at an academic institution with security cameras. My ex-wife went into hiding and has found an alternative place of employment. Received threats from mysterious cell numbers, which upon investigation, are unregistered burner phones.
While this was taking place, the Minister of Home Affairs used the government’s law firm to threaten a R200 000.00 damages case against me, obviously to bankrupt me, because he did not like what Zimbabwean lawyers say about him. To date I have not received summons. An empty threat. Mr Clayson Monyela (the spokesperson for the South AfricanDepartment of International Relations & Cooperation) outright threatened to deport me in a message on Twitter.
They cannot beat me in Court, so they want to use force to physically remove me from their jurisdiction. Our legal team has changed because of threats they have received. More troubling is the fact that the South African governments counter measures only target the Zimbabwean lawyers in the case, and not the South African lawyers, because they believe, as many do, that the international community do not value Zimbabwean lawyers, or Zimbabweans generally, and that there would be no international outrage if they deploy clandestine operatives to deal with us, which they have being doing with impunity.
It gets even worse, I have received death threats on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. These threats have been brought to the attention of the police but there have been no arrests. Even when the threat is made on a public platform, and where the identity of the person making the threats is known. We have seen this happen before and we all know what the South African police are doing by not doing anything.
They are sending a signal to would be perpetrators that they can, and will, get away with committing crimes against Zimbabweans, even Zimbabwean lawyers. This emboldens the South African public to target Zimbabweans, which they do with alarming frequency. We all saw the footage of the late Elvis Nyathi burnt alive in 2022 by South Africans for being Zimbabwean. The identity of the perpetrators visible for the World to see, and no convictions. It is an indirect act of intimidation by the South African police. The people that committed these grizzly acts proudly walk free in the streets of South Africa knowing that they have the permission of the South African police to burn Zimbabweans alive, threaten Zimbabwean lawyers, pressure ZEPHA’s funders to cut support, and that the South African government will do nothing.
Dark forces in South Africa have overreached and cannot be allowed to succeed in shameless interference in legal proceedings brought by Zimbabweans. I call upon the international and regional community: captains of industry, friends of Zimbabwe (in the West and the East), the Zimbabwean diaspora (especially in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia), and non-governmental organisations throughout the World to contact ZEPHA on email@example.com if they want to support our endeavours for a fair hearing, and to show servants of hate that they cannot succeed in defeating the ends of justice.
On 14 March 2023 I shall be giving a lecture, at the invitation of Nelson Mandela University, during human rights month, about violations of Zimbabwean rights in South Africa by agents of hate. The late Nelson Mandela was a champion of human rights and would have been the first to support ZEPHA. It is right that the international and regional community comes to the support of ZEPHA.
Advocate Simba Chitando is the lead counsel for the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association. His views are not necessarily the views of The Southern African Times.