Save gran from deportation, urge Leicester campaigners

A campaign has been launched to save a grandmother from deportation to her native Zimbabwe.

Evenia Mawongera, who is a member of a choir which sang for the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee visit to Leicester, fears she will be persecuted for her pro-democracy activities if she is deported.

 ​united we stand: University of Leicester student Ambrose Musiyiwa, centre, and fellow supporters of Evenia MawongeraUnited we stand: University of Leicester student Ambrose Musiyiwa, centre, and fellow supporters of Evenia Mawongera

The mother-of-two, who has four grandchildren and is an active member of the Methodist Church in Leicester, is in a detention centre in Bedfordshire and has been told she will be removed from the UK next Wednesday.

She is hoping a last-minute appeal will win her the right to remain in the UK. Lawyers are currently putting together an application on her behalf.

The fled persecution in Zimbabwe 10 years ago and settled in Leicester, joining her two daughters, who had been granted leave to stay in the UK after completing their studies here.

She has made a number of unsuccessful applications for leave to remain here.

Campaigners are appealing to Home Secretary Theresa May to release Mrs Mawongera from the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre and allow her to return to her family in Leicester while she fights her case.

One of her daughters, 33-year-old Loreen Mawongera, said: “The only thing that is certain about Zimbabwe is that the violence is getting worse and we are very worried our mother will be persecuted because she has been openly critical of the government there.

“My sister and I don’t know what we can do to stop her being removed from the country next week.

“We want her to be released and allowed to come back to Leicester while we appeal against her removal.”

Ambrose Musiyiwa, a University of Leicester student who is supporting the family, said: “Evenia is being told she is being removed from this country at a time when there is objective evidence of escalating violence in Zimbabwe.

“People are dying there and the Home Office in this country is aware of this.

“I spoke to her while she was in detention and she is in shock and distress because her family is about to be split up.”

Enniah Dube, of the Leicester branch of pro-democracy campaign group Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, said: “To take Evenia away from her children and her grandchildren would be very cruel.

“We believe her case should be reviewed and that she should be allowed home to her family while that takes place. Surely she should be afforded that basic human right.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Office only returns individuals if both we and the courts are satisfied they do not qualify for protection and have no legal basis to remain in the country. All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.

“The onus is on the individual to provide the necessary evidence to support their application. If they fail to do so, we will seek to remove them.”

Read more:
Follow us: @thisisleics on Twitter | thisisleicestershire on FacebookThe campaign continues tomorrow Monday when The Zimbabwean Association Choir will be singing in Town Hall Square (assuming I sort permission if it’s needed) in the afternoon. We are aiming for 1.00pm onwards, but I can confirm that tomorrow morning.

We collected 214 hard copy signatures yesterday and today, and have 525 on line. Also the Churches have been organising their own petitions.

It would be really good to have some support from people who are not working tomorrow, to show the bredth of support for this cause. We think the success of the campaign to stop Abdul’s deportation came from the variety of people filmed by central news. Colleen, Susan, Julie can you make sure this gets out to City of Sanctuary people?

More information in Saturday’s edition of the Leicester Mercury, or on CivicLeicester Page on Facebook.