Zimbabwean woman deported by five countries dies in Kenyan prison
A Zimbabwean at the centre of a deportation ordeal that led to her detention at airports in five countries has died.
Agnes Galawu Nemakonde was imprisoned at Kenya’s Lang’ata Women’s Prison where she fell ill and was admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
KNH public relations officer Simon Ithae on Tuesday confirmed Nemakonde’s death, but did not disclose what she was suffering from.
Last week, Nemakonde was in court complaining about the facilities at the Lang’ata jail. The court, however, dismissed the application and ordered that she continues being detained at the prison.
Though the United Nations High Commission for Refugees had agreed to facilitate her stay in Kenya, it later said her conduct had compromised its ability to discharge its functions.
Her lawyer had also asked the court not to return her to Lang’ata prison due to the state of the facilities there and suggested that she be freed and ordered to report to the police station periodically.
The court, however, still ruled that she stays in Lang’ata where she went on a hunger strike and later fell ill.
Nemakonde was deported from Scotland between 2009 and 2010 and since then, has been detained in Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa and Kenya.
She has been either in police custody or detained at airports in five different countries.
Ms Agnes Galawu Nemakonde has been at Dangavel Detention Centre in Glasgow, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Maula Prison in Malawi, Lodwar GK Prison and Kileleshwa, Lodwar and Kakuma police stations.
She has also been detained at Harare, JKIA, Lilongwe and Johannesburg airports as well as at Kenya’s Immigration offices at Nyayo House.
It all started on October 17, 2011 when she got a call on her mobile phone and was told she was required by the Immigration department in Glasgow.
The following day, she was taken to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, where she was told officials had found both Kenyan and Malawian documents at her residence.
Consequently, they gave her a one-way tickets to Nairobi and Lilongwe. “The UK sent me back as either a Kenyan or Malawian,” she told Nation.
The same night she was put on a flight to Nairobi, arriving in the morning of October 19.
Since then, she has never been free. Ms Galawu was born on November 22, 1969 at St Mary’s, a black township outside Harare, and attended Chapwanya primary and secondary schools but dropped out in Form Three.
According to Ms Galawu, at the age of 12, she moved to the farm of Janie Smith Richard, who has since died. They became close friends and in 1997, she gave birth to a baby girl, Miriam Francesca.
In 1995, Mr Richard was asked to move out of Zimbabwe on claims he was supporting gays and owned too much land, but he refused to leave.
In December 2003, armed people raided the farm and killed her daughter, Mr Richard and her uncle.
She says after that she was taken to the UK by Mr George Keoki Barmister from Honolulu before she later moved to stay with Mr Michael Sterwart, who later succumbed to cancer in 2005.
She continued staying on the farm doing paintings and other artwork. In 2008 the immigration officials took her to Dangavel Detention Centre, where she stayed for one month, and later advised her to seek asylum.
In the process, she met Mr David Alexander, a retired teacher she had met earlier in Zimbabwe. In 2010, she married Alexander.
In Nairobi, Immigration officials said she was not a Kenyan and put her on another flight to Lilongwe, Malawi.
In Lilongwe, she never left the plane. Malawian officials told her they had found out some of her family members were in South Africa, so they would deport her there, but the following day, the South African authorities returned her to Malawi.
Back in Malawi, the officials sought to know whether she supported gay people and she admitted. She was detained at Maula Prison for five days before being flown back to Nairobi.
In Nairobi, she was taken to Lokichogio and charged with being unlawfully present in Kenya and was sentenced for one year or a fine of Sh55,000.
On November 29, she started serving her sentence at the Lodwar GK Prison and was to finish her term on July 29 this year.
On January 26, a businessman in Lodwar paid her fine and she was released, but instead taken to Kakuma Police Station where she was detained for four days before being advised to go to their embassy in Westlands Nairobi to get a ticket back to Zimbabwe.
She was then issued with a form, “Notice to Prohibited Immigrant” requiring her to leave Kenya within 21 days by any means.
When she eventually arrived in Nairobi on February 20, Immigration officials took her to Kileleshwa Police Station.
The following day she was taken to the British High Commission, which refused to deal with her, saying she had no valid papers.
The officials at the Embassy of Zimbabwe told her that she did not have proper documentation and thus could not deal with her case.
She was returned to custody at Kileleshwa Police Station, where she refused to eat, prompting OCS Stephen Mwoni to contact the Immigration officials who had her detained there.
The officers went to the station and released her last week, advising her to find a place to spend the night and report to their office the following day.
When she went, they told her to find her way to the airport where she could get assistance back to the UK.
Instead the Kenya Airports Authority security forced her into a vehicle and dumped her in Shauri Moyo, next to the police station, where a Good Samaritan took her to the Kenya National Commission on Human rights.
“I’ve just been interviewed and I’m waiting for the next stage,” she told Kenya newspaper.