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Detained Zimbabwean grandmother: If I’m deported I am going to die

A Leicester grandmother who has sung for the Queen and won the Good Neighbour Award 2013 has been detained to be deported back to Zimbabwe – and her family is worried she may be persecuted for speaking out against Robert Mugabe’s leadership.

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Facebook: Evenia Must Stay!

A ZIMBABWEAN grandmother and critic of the Mugabe regime is once again facing deportation, which she claims will result in her persecution in her homeland.

Evenia Mawongera, 55, was detained when signing in at the Loughborough Immigration Registration Centre on 13 September 2013, a requirement of the asylum process she has been in for five years

According to Facebook campaign page ‘Evenia Must Stay’, if she is deported to Zimbabwe, Mawongera is at risk of “arrest, persecution and extremely serious ill-treatment” because of her work with groups including Zimbabwe Vigil and Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe, which are calling on President Mugabe to respect human rights and the rule of law.

The petition page, ‘Theresa May: Evenia Must Stay’, is calling on members of the public to tweet and write to the home secretary.

The Home Office had already planned to “forcibly remove” Mawongera in August 2013, but this did not go ahead.

Facebook: Evenia Must Stay!
Facebook: Evenia Must Stay!

Speaking to ITN News in August about why she is fighting deportation, Mawongera said: “What I know is that I am going to die.

“It’s better for them to just kill me here…and my children will see my grave, it will be ok. When I go home, that is the end. No one will see me again,” she added.

Her daughter Loreen said to the Leicester Mercury: “To us, as family, it’s a death sentence in front of our eyes and we’re having to watch it happen. We don’t have the power to stop it, we’re just praying for sympathy and waiting for somebody to listen.”

It is a criminal offence in Zimbabwe to criticise the president, but in videos of Mawongera and the Zimbabwe Association Choir they do just that, the campaign page states.

Mawongera fled persecution in Zimbabwe 10 years ago and has been a valued member of her local town, Leicester.

She won the Good Neighbour Award 2013, is an active member of the Methodist Church and has sung in the Zimbabwe Association Choir for the Queen when she visited the city.

Mawongera and the Zimbabwe Association Choir perform ‘Zvinondirwadza’


In a 2013 study released by human rights charity Amnesty International, it was found that a high number of asylum appeals were granted after the initial decision to refuse refugee status.

The charity explained that this revealed a”flawed credibility assessment resulted in the wrong decision being arrived at in the first instance”.

In 2012 Home Office statistics, 25% (four out of 16) of the appeals from Zimbabwe nationals were overturned.

Earlier this year, Theresa May announced that the asylum process has been removed from the UK Border Agency’s control and put back into the Home Office portfolio.

Jan Shaw, Refugee Affairs Programme Director at Amnesty International UK, said, “We need an asylum system that gets the decision right first time.

“Getting the decision wrong in the first instance causes a great deal of anxiety for asylum seekers and prolongs the period in which they are left in limbo. It is also wasting taxpayers’ money by refusing people on patently spurious grounds, leading to costly and unnecessary appeals.

“In disbanding the UK Border Agency, Theresa May has acknowledged defects in the process as it stands, and she must now ensure that this is a watershed moment where a break with flawed practices is made once and for all.”

In July, Mugabe said that thousands of Zimbabweans were abusing his name and using it as a “passport” to get political asylum in the UK, NewsdzeZimbabwe reported.

See the petition on

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