Extremely worried friends, family and campaigners of a young man deported to Zimbabwe by the Home Office last month are fighting to bring him back to the UK.
Bruce Mpofu, 29, was deported to Zimbabwe, a place where he has “no friends or family” on Wednesday, 25 August.
Prior to this, Bruce had been detained for over a month at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport because of a crime he committed in 2010 aged 18.
He was sentenced to 11 months in prison for burglary and hasn’t reoffended since.
READ MORE:’Suicide attempts’ hours before ‘chaotic’ deportation flight to Jamaica from London Stansted Airport
(Image: 2004 AFP)
Over the past decade, Bruce has ‘turned his life around’ by mentoring and supporting young people, and has played rugby at his local club, Wibsey Rugby Club in Bradford for many years.
Friends have described Bruce, who first arrived to the UK aged nine, as a “Yorkshire lad through and through” and are appalled that he is seen as a “threat”, The Independent reports.
Zita Holbourne, co-founder and national chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC UK) has described Bruce’s situation as “horrific” and is campaigning to reverse his deportation to reunite him with his mum, who is an NHS worker and other family members back in Bradford.
She told My London: “Bruce has spent his entire life in the UK, he’s been targeted because of his criminal record which is what the government are currently doing – they’re targeting anybody that has a criminal record.
“He’s turned his life around and it’s a really horrific situation we have here. It islegal for the government to deport people in this way but in our view, it’s a breach of human rights and it’s totally inappropriate.”
Another concern of Zita’s is that those who are deported to various foreign countries are particularly vulnerable to being destitute or homeless.
” Effectively people are left to find their own way and survive by themselves,” adds Zita.
A Crowdfunder has been organised to help cover legal fees in the fight to reverse Bruce’s deportation, as well as to financially support him while he is in Zimbabwe.
Zita says most deportees rely heavily on charities in their new country to help support them as without charities, “they wouldn’t have any help”. She alleges that money from the British government supposedly for the deportees is actually handed over to the government of their deportation country.
Before he was deported, Bruce told The Independent: “I’m terrified. I don’t know what I’ll do out there. I don’t speak the language, I don’t know anyone. I don’t have money.
“I’ve learnt from my mistake over 10 years ago. If I’d been in and out of prison I might understand, but I’ve changed. It’s not fair for them to judge me on a mistake I made 10 years ago.”
Upon arrival, Bruce had to quarantine for 10 days at a government training centre in Zimbabwe. His loved ones are now desperate for his safe return back to the UK.
Zita has slammed the Home Office’s lack of empathy and says it has “no humanity” for an individual’s personal circumstances.
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She adds: “The Home Office deem everybody to be a foreign national criminal without looking into their circumstances.It’s about them not caring and having this blanket policy and law that says if you are a foreign national criminal, that means you were not born in the UK.
“You committed a crime in the UK so you’re deported – it’s a blanket approach. It’s about them not caring and having no humanity.”
More deportation flights to countries including Jamaica, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe are expected to happen soon.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Foreign criminals who abuse our hospitality should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them. Since January 2019 we have removed 8,441 foreign national offenders from the UK.
“We only ever return those who we and, where applicable, the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and have no legal basis to remain in the UK.
“The Home Office funded re-integration support provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for all those being deported to Zimbabwe on last month’s flight.”
Are you a Londoner who has been affected by Home Office deportations? Contact Ruby at [email protected]