Immigration Bill still on ice

A Cape High Court judge on Monday extended the suspension of the new Immigration Act and its regulations, which were supposed to have come into force last Wednesday, to April 7.

They were put on hold by an eleventh-hour ruling on Tuesday night, following a finding by the court that the regulations were invalid and unconstitutional.

Monday’s extension was by agreement between the legal teams acting for Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the man who brought the challenge, immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg.

Judge Deon van Zyl said the court would sit at 9am on April 7 to hear argument in Buthelezi’s application for leave to appeal against the original finding. The status quo—the Aliens Control Act, supposed to have been replaced by the new law—would continue till then.

Van Zyl and Cape Judge President John Hlophe, who sat together to hear Eisenberg’s application, expect to deliver their written judgment in two weeks. Buthelezi’s adviser Mario Ambrosini said home affairs had already begun the process of bringing the regulations in line with the court’s ruling.

However the minister still intended to pursue the appeal.
“The minister’s intention is just to bring the new system of immigration control into force and effect as soon as possible, and will pursue all avenues to that end,” he said.

Eisenberg said the two parties could never have come to any agreement other than an extension of the suspension.

“What else could we do? This is the only way of preserving order. There’s no alternative.”

There had been fears of chaos at ports of entry if the judges’ original ruling—which would have meant a new immigration act operating with old regulations—had stood unqualified. - Sapa

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