Answer to a question from a reader

Home Affairs declared my husband an undesirable person for five years because he overstayed his visit. Can this be overturned?

The short answer

Your husband can appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs.

The whole question

My husband was recently declared an undesirable person by Home Affairs despite presenting the receipt that he had legally applied for a ZEP permit and is waiting for it. This happened on 5 January 2019 at Beitbridge border post. 

He has been banned from returning to South Africa for five years.  

How does this work and can we appeal? Is this legal?

I already hold a ZEP work permit which I received in December after submitting my application in November 2017. My husband submitted his in December 2017 but has still not received it.

What is the way forward with such an issue?

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking about your husband being declared an undesirable person at the Beitbridge border post in January this year.

Unfortunately in terms of the 2014 amendments to the Immigration act, Home Affairs can declare a person undesirable at the border post even if the person’s existing visa had only run out after they had applied to extend it. Or, as in your husband’s case, the application for the ZEP. If Home Affairs judges that a person has overstayed by more than 30 days, he can be banned from re-entering for five years.

An appeal can be made within two weeks (or ten working days) of being declared undesirable to the Department of Home Affairs at the following email address: To confirm that the appeal has been received, IMS Deportations at this number can be contacted: 012 406 4985.

He can also appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs, which does not have a time limit.

In appealing, he would need to include the following:

  • A letter explaining as fully as possible all the circumstances, including his family in South Africa, and why he should not be considered undesirable.

  • A copy of the declaration of undesirability (Form 19) that he would have been given at Beitbridge.

  • A copy of the relevant pages of his passport including the biographical page.

  • Acknowledgement of receipt that he had applied for a permit that he was still waiting for.

You can ask advice and help from organisations which have experience of dealing with this problem, which so many people are experiencing. Here are three:

  • The Zimbabwe Dispensation Forum at

  • Lawyers for Human Rights (Refugee and Migrant rights Programme (RMRP)) at Johannesburg: 011 339 1960

  • PASSOP: Cape Town 021 762 0322

Answered on March 26, 2019, 9:49 a.m.

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