Cape Town – Zimbabweans who were deported from Britain last month are reportedly living in fear of authorities and are begging for food, as some of them remain homeless, a report says.
This comes as London is preparing to send another mass removal flight to the southern African country.
Last month, the first group among dozens of Zimbabweans slated for deportation from Britain arrived in Zimbabwe on a charter plane.
According to Harare, as many as 150 of its citizens were held in detention centres awaiting removal from the UK after being convicted of crimes.
Fourteen arrived in the Zimbabwean capital last month following what the UK Home Office described in a statement as “a landmark and historic agreement to return foreign national offenders”.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Zimbabweans “committed murder, rape and other despicable crimes”.
Last-minute legal challenges against the deportations delayed the removal of many among the 50 scheduled to be on the first flight.
UK’s Independent reported on Wednesday that two deportees who were sleeping rough in Harare and Bulawayo were now begging for food.
“I’ve been struggling. It’s really terrible. I have nowhere to live. I have to ask for food from strangers. Luckily people have a good heart,” the report quoted 37-year-old Munyaradzi Ndowa as saying.
Ndowa was one of the deportees who arrived in Zimbabwe last month after living in the UK from 2007.
He said he had returned to Bulawayo where he grew up but he was now sleeping on the streets as he no longer had family or support network in that city.
Another one, a 43-year-old man, said since completing the 10-day quarantine on arrival, he had been sleeping on the floor of someone’s shed in the capital Harare.
Meanwhile, charities and unions have described the deportation flights as a “cruel double punishment” that is “tearing people away from their homes, families and communities” and placing them at risk of “persecution, isolation and poverty”, the report said.
Campaigners are calling on the Home Office to halt a second removal flight to Zimbabwe scheduled for Wednesday.
Tendai Biti, vice-president of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, last month urged Britain to reconsider.
“The deportation of compatriots from the UK is sad and regrettable,” he tweeted.
Zimbabwe “remains an extremely fragile & vulnerable space. Political attrition & human rights abuses are increasing”, he added.
But foreign minister Fredrick Shava said the returnees would not be victimised.
“There is no reason for anyone to persecute them unless an individual had a pending case which had not been finalised in Zimbabwe,” he told public broadcaster ZBC.
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha Madhomu
Additional reporting by AFP