The South African Government has rejected claims that a Zimbabwean PhD student, Philip Chuma, from Wits University who allegedly took his own life was a holder of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).
South African media reports had suggested that Chuma, PhD student at the Wits University School of Education, killed himself after failing to register for the academic year because his study permit had expired.
It was also claimed that Chuma was in regular contact with the Department of Home Affairs to have his papers processed.
However, in a statement, Home Affairs Department spokesperson Siya Qoza said Chuma was not a ZEP holder, and even if he was, he could still have registered with the university. Said Qoza:
The ZEP is not applicable to him or his case whatsoever. Even if he was the holder thereof, the Minister of Home Affairs has issued Directive No.1 of 2021 extending the validity of the exemptions granted to Zimbabwean nationals until 31 December 2022.
The student was a holder of a study visa which expired in January 2022. Nothing prevented the said student from registering since September 2021.
Furthermore, there was no hurdle for him to register with the University without the involvement of the DHA.
Indeed, many foreign students successfully registered at various learning institutions, including Wits University.
The student only applied to renew his study visa on 21 April 2022. The statement that the student was in regular contact with the DHA is misleading and mischievous.
The DHA is unable to fathom the reasons why the said student failed to register on time.