Suicide of Zim PhD student: SA Home Office dismisses permit denial claims


  • Philip Chuma allegedly committed suicide after failing to register for the academic year because his study permit had expired.

The Home Office has clarified details surrounding the death of a Zimbabwean Wits University PhD student who allegedly committed suicide after failing to register for the academic year because his permit had expired saying nothing did not prevent him from registering.

Reports over the weekend suggest that Philip Chuma, a doctoral student at the School of Education was unable to register for the 2022 academic year after his study permit expired at the end of January 2022.

The report said that while Wits University could enroll students from other countries without a valid study permit, Chuma was in regular contact with the Home Office to process its documentation.

In a statement, Home Ministry spokesman Siya Qoza said Chuma was not an exemption holder commonly known as Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).

Qoza said Minister Aaron Motsoaledi issued instructions published in the Official Gazette on September 28, 2021 opening applications for visas under the Immigration Act, including study visas.

“The ZEP does not apply to him or his case whatsoever. Even though he was the holder, the Minister of Home Affairs issued Directive No. 1 of 2021 extending the validity of the exemptions granted to Zimbabwean nationals until December 31, 2022.”

“The student was on a study visa which expired in January 2022. Nothing prevented the said student from enrolling since September 2021. Moreover, nothing prevented him from enrolling at the University without the intervention of DHA. Indeed, many foreign students have successfully enrolled in various educational institutions including Wits University,” Qoza said.

Qoza said Chuma’s registration process for the academic year was not dependent on renewal as her study visa was still valid.

“The student did not apply for renewal of his study visa until April 21, 2022. The claim that the student was in regular contact with DHA is misleading and malicious. The DHA is unable to understand the reasons why said student did not register on time.

The DHA has condemned the insinuation that Chuma’s tragic death may be brought to its doorstep.