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Ackermann J

permits under section 25(4), (5) and (6) of the Act. Pursuant to these discussions, which apparently developed into a cordial working relationship, a written confirmation was given to the first applicant on behalf of the DG that:

“… all the requests for exemptions in terms of section 23(b) of the Aliens Control Act … will be considered on merit.”

Although the reference to section 23(b) of the Act is somewhat obscure, it is clear from the context that what was being referred to was an exemption under section 28 of the Act from the requirements of section 23(b).

[19]Notwithstanding the above confirmation, the first applicant continued making representations for the express statutory recognition of same-sex relationships for purposes of sections 25(4), (5) and (6) of the Act. In consequence thereof at least thirteen temporary exemptions were granted between April and November 1997 under section 28(2) of the Act to foreign same-sex partners of lesbian or gay South Africans who were seeking permanent residence in the Republic. The exemptions were granted by an official duly delegated by the Minister and in each case it was stated that the temporary exemption had been granted for a period of twelve months “to await the outcome of the memorandum submitted to the Minister of Home Affairs” and that the grantor was “satisfied that special circumstances exist which justify such an exemption” under the provisions of section 28(2) from the requirements of section 23(b) of the Act.

[20]During the course of 1997 the department changed its attitude which culminated on 9