An award-winning Sheffield volunteer facing deportation to Zimbabwe has been given a temporary reprieve.
Victor Mujakachi has lived in the UK since 2003 and has been seeking asylum here since 2008, when the Zimbabwe government, of which he has been a vocal critic, issued a warrant for his arrest.
He and his supporters fear his safety would be at risk were he forced to returned to his birth country, especially given the recent crackdown on protesters there, with Amnesty International accusing the Zimbabwe government of using ‘the most brutal tactics imaginable’.
Gill Furniss, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, who is supporting Mr Mujakachi, today revealed she and fellow protesters had secured a guarantee he would not be removed from the UK in the next three months.
But she said he was still being detained by the Home Office and she was working to secure his release.
The breakthrough comes after more than 7,500 people signed a petition demanding Mr Mujakachi’s release.
Ms Furniss said: “I am incredibly pleased that following my interventions with the Home Office and a petition of over 7500 people we have now secured a three month window in which Victor will not be removed from the UK. However, Victor remains detained at Morton Hall and work to release him is continuing.
“The outpouring of support for such a valued member of our community has been amazing and has played no small part in ensuring that, for now, Victor is safe. My team and I will be working over the coming weeks to help Victor return to his family and secure his future in Sheffield.”
Mr Mujakachi volunteers for a number of good causes in his home city, including running ASSIST Sheffield’s night shelter for asylum seekers with nowhere else to sleep, and has won a clutch of awards for his volunteering.
Lyndsey McLellan, who works for the charity and launched the petition to free him, said she was pleased by news of the progress but she remained concerned about Khuzani Ndlovu, another Zimbabwean who was detained in Sheffield yesterday.
She had previously told how both detainees remained in ‘good spirits’ and were ‘humbled’ by the support they had received.
The Home Office has not commented specifically on Mr Mujakachi’s case but said in a statement: “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.”
To view the petition, visit www.change.org/p/home-office-free-victor-mujakachi.