By Leopold Munhende
“I AM hurt, I do not even know where or how he will restart his life,” said a mother, waiting in vain to catch a glimpse of her 32-year-old son on arrival at the Robert Gabriel International Airport Thursday.
The son is among 14 Zimbabweans who were deported from the United Kingdom (UK) this week.
With tears, the woman braved media questions telling journalists her son (name withheld on request) had been taking care of his three siblings in Zimbabwe and two cousins whose parents are late.
She said her son went to the UK 21 years ago at the age of only 11.
He has left a wife and three children in the UK with the eldest still in primary school.
“I just thank God he came back alive. I do not even know where or how he will restart his life and I know this is now only up to God himself,” said the mother who requested anonymity for fear the state might victimise her son.
“The last time I spoke to him he was really hurt that he was being forced to leave his children behind.”
Cutting a lonely figure, she followed journalists around hoping to catch a glimpse of her son as he disembarked from a chartered plane that brought them back.
Government authorities, however, blocked them from public view, whisking them away from media view and threatening to arrest journalists who kept trying to film the deportees.
The woman added: “Today, I wanted to see and talk to him, but I failed and have to deal with it. All I know is they will not kill him. They will eventually let him go and I will see him.”
The 15 deportees are the first of 150 Zimbabweans expected to be deported from the UK as part of its “summer season of charter flight deportations”.
Others are being deported to Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana, and Jamaica.
The deportees are reported to have served time in various prisons in the UK for crimes ranging from rape, robbery, drug peddling, and murder.
Attempts by Duncan Lewis solicitors to block the deportations and a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel questioning the deportation to Zimbabwe where the government is accused of failing to uphold basic human rights, failed.
“We make no apology for seeking to protect the public by removing serious, violent, and persistent foreign national offenders. We have removed more than 700 criminals this year, with a combined sentence of more than 1,500 years in prison,” said the British Home Office.
“It is painful because this (son) is my breadwinner. This is wrong, it is not good for me or the family,” added the mother.
“He was really taking good care of me, he was literally a father figure to me and his three siblings and cousins. All his siblings are not employed and he was the sole reason behind our survival.
“It is difficult for me to accept this. It will obviously be hard for his wife to take care of us.”
“We welcome these fellow citizens home, they will be safe and the same opportunities availed to everyone else will be available to them.”
Defeated, the mother made her way home in time to beat the Covid-19 curfew in place, without any communication from government or airport officials present.
Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said the deportees will be quarantined at the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Administration and Management (ZIPAM) in Darwendale for 10 days before they rejoin their families.
“14 Zimbabweans arrived today (Thursday), they have been taken to ZIPAM, they will have Covid-19 tests and quarantined for 10 days, after being Covid-19 cleared, they will join their families and communities,” said Mangwana.