Simba Mujakachi: Sheffield man’s £100,000 NHS debt wiped off after being granted refugee status after 11 years

A Sheffield man who was left permanently paralysed because he could not afford life-saving medication while he was an asylum seeker has had his entire NHS debt of £100,000 written off after being awarded refugee status.

Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 2:40 pm

But Simba Mujakachi, aged 32, told The Guardian that he is unable to celebrate his legal win, which comes after 11 years of arduous applications and appeals, because he has been left in a difficult financial situation and may soon be evicted from his house.

Simba's family moved to the UK from Zimbabwe in 2004, and in 2009, his dad had to apply for asylum after his criticism of Robert Mugabe's government led to a warrant being issued for his arrest.

When Simba turned 18, he applied for asylum himself but his claim was refused. All of Simba's family had been fighting for years to have their right to asylum recognised.

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Simba Mujakachi and his wife, Melissa Smith, when he was hospitalised.

But in 2019, Simba suffered a life-threatening stroke which left him partially paralysed.

He was charged over £100,000 by the NHS for the care needed to save his life because of his immigration status, despite not being allowed to work and not having an income.

In 2018, Simba stopped receiving treatment for his blood clotting condition due to unaffordable NHS costs – his family say that being able to access this treatment could have prevented the devastating stroke.

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‘You can’t do anything with that freedom’

Simba told The Guardian: “It’s actually a bit worse now in the sense that you’re now in the system but they’re still kicking you while you’re down.

“On one note you can be grateful that you have immigration freedom but you can’t do anything with that freedom.

“There’s no relief whatsoever. Every day is a constant fight. I can’t fake being happy when I’m not.”

Even though he regained some physical movement following the stroke, his condition prevents him from working. He has been informed that he is not eligible for universal credit due to his partner's student loan 'income.'

Mujakachi and his full-time English language and literature student partner, Melissa Smith, owe Sheffield City Council £3,000 in rent arrears.

Sheffield City Council responds

Sheffield City Council, although not commenting on an individual's case, stated that they support any household having difficulty paying their rent.

Janet Sharpe, Director of Housing, for the Council’s Housing and Neighbourhood Services, said: “It is the responsibility of any tenant to pay their rent to ensure they are not at risk of losing their home.

“Any rent account where the rent is not being paid and in significant arrears runs the risk of formal action to recover this debt.

“We support any household that is struggling to pay their rent and, we will advise the tenant at every stage where formal action is being considered and offer to talk with them in confidence about their circumstances.

“My officers will also discuss with a tenant if they can repay any arrears through an agreed payment plan rather than asking for large payments at once.

“We will also check if there are any benefits or additional funds that could be accessed to reduce the cost to the tenant.”

The Home Office refused to comment when contacted.