A charity worker who cooks weekly meals for the homeless is at risk of being deported back to Zimbabwe and says he has no idea why.
Sheffield-based Khuzani Ndlovu, 46, told Metro.co.uk he fears he will be tortured or killed if he is sent back to the country which he fled in May 2014, before seeking UK asylum.
Khuzani was attending a ‘routine’ appointment on February 11 at the Home Office’s Sheffield building, Vulcan House, when he was detained and told he would be deported ‘any time’ from today, February 14.
Speaking from Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in Lincolnshire today, Khuzani told Metro.co.uk he has ‘never missed’ an immigration appointment.
He described the detention centre as a ‘prison’ and is being held in a cell alone.
‘I arrived on Monday and they asked if my health was okay, if I was strong, or on medication. I said I was fine,’ he said.
‘I expected them to say okay and come back like usual but two officers appeared behind me and locked me in a room.
‘They told me I don’t have indefinite leave to remain, that the Home Office got a refusal letter and they have to send me home.
‘I’m really scared. People are being tortured, killed, persecuted at home. It could happen to me.’
In Zimbabwe the volunteer was politically persecuted for being a member of centre-left party, Movement for Democratic Change.
Friends have launched a petition to release Khuzani.
The volunteer was asked to attend a prior ‘routine’ check-in appointment with the Home Office on December 4.
He claims he was questioned by a Zimbabwean embassy official – who would not disclose his name to Khuzani – who repeatedly asked for details, which the charity worker said he had already handed to the Home Office.
Numerous Zimbabwean asylum seekers were questioned in similar ‘re-documentation interviews’, which lawyers believe are part of an agreement to ‘repatriate’ some 2,500 Zimbabwean nationals in exchange for aid money, according to The Independent.
The Home Office did not deny the claims, continued the report.
A spokesperson for the Home Office told The Guardian that ‘routine re-documentation’ interviews with embassy officials often took place to establish the identity of an individual so that emergency travel documentation could be issued.
‘I’m very scared that they will take me back home and those people have my details,’ said Khuzani.
‘My neighbours called and said some of my family were approached after the interview.
‘They said my brother and sister were being tortured and now I don’t know where they are. I’m really worried.’
It comes just one month after over 1,000 protestors were arrested, brutally beaten and shot in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, following a dramatic hike in fuel prices under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Khuzani has volunteered weekly at several charitable organisations for three years, cooking meals for the homeless and handing out clothes to refugees with City of Sanctuary Sheffield.
Coordinator for City of Sanctuary, Sarah Eldridge said Khuzani is ‘well-liked, really reliable and hard-working’.
She said: ‘We know that asylum seekers whose cases have been refused are always living in fear of being detained but we thought with the current situation in Zimbabwe they would never send anyone back.
‘It’s alarming it’s even being considered.’
Victor Mujakachi, 58, was also detained on Monday – shortly after Khuzani – and was due to be deported back to Zimbabwe today.
Following a 64,000-strong petition and media exposure Victor has since had his deportation delayed by three months, reported The Independent.
He has been in the UK for 16 years and volunteers for numerous charities, including ASSIST Sheffield which finds emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.
Jochen Kortlaender, accommodation manager at ASSIST, told Metro.co.uk that he spoke with Victor today and is hoping to leave the detention centre ‘within the next few days’.
‘I spoke to him earlier and he’s hoping he’ll be bailed soon. But the crucial point is that he is still at threat of deportation,’ he said.
The manager believes there is a ‘strong risk’ Khuzani and Victor could be tortured on arrival in Zimbabwe.
‘We are worried there is an organised campaign to send back refugees and asylum seekers,’ he continued.
‘There’s a culture of disbelief. We often see that people who have not got all evidence of why they had to flee, or sometimes they do.
‘There’s many who have a valid reason why they fled but could be refused by the Home Office.’
A Home Office spokesperson told Metro.co.uk: ‘The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection.
‘Where a decision has been made that a person does not require international protection removal is only enforced when we and the courts conclude that it is safe to do so, with a safe route of return.’