LONDON, UK – Londoners being deported to Zimbabwe in a matter of days who are currently held in a Gatwick removal center claim they have been told to self-isolate for 10 days.
It is unclear whether the alleged outbreak of Covid at the centre near Gatwick Airport will prevent the detainees from boarding the flight scheduled on Wednesday (July 21).
When My London contacted the Home Office a spokesperson said they do not comment on operational matters..
Some Londoners were released from detention while others are appealing for legal assistance through activist charity BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts), as they fight to remain in the country.
A Zimbabwean government opposition member for MDC – Janetry Muranganwa – still remains in Brook House Immigration Removal Centre and fears for his life, along with a semi-professional footballer who arrived in the UK aged seven, who has no recollection of his birth country where he’ll be deported to.
Christopher Arundel had hoped to be a professional football player, but instead, he remains trapped in the detention centre.
He now worries for his future and his health as the 26-year-old and MDC member Janetry claim they were told by guards the centre now has two Covid cases.
Christopher said: “There’s one person on my wing isolating for Covid. They’re saying we have to isolate for 10 days. We can’t move in and out of the wing.
“I don’t know what that means for the flight.”
He was serving time in prison after being convicted of GBH and drugs possession and was required to attend the immigration reporting office once a month but on June 28 he was told without warning that his removal from the United Kingdom was imminent.
Christopher said: “I was served with deportation orders because I committed a crime in 2015.
“They took me and said you’ve been detained and your removal from the United Kingdom is imminent.
“Then they placed me in a detention cell in the reporting office with four guards saying you can’t leave.”
Due to not having British citizenship or naturalised status, the aspiring footballer’s paperwork was not completed as a child and therefore he is being considered for deportation.
Christopher said: “I just got left by the system and to my own devices.”
Christopher’s mum, Mildred, 57, says her son was a hardworking student who always wanted to be a footballer. She keeps photographs of his matches where he played for Staines Town on her wall.
The 57 year-old said: “He was offered a position in football. He worked his damndest at school, playing football and stuff like that. He wanted to be a footballer.”
Unable to get a job due to his immigration status Christopher started looking for money in the wrong places.
The ex-offender said: “When I turned 18, I wasn’t allowed to work or study and kind of got frustrated with that and ended up associating with wrong people.”
The Gatwick detainee began doing voluntary work as part of his rehabilitation after prison.
The 26 year-old said: “I was involved in voluntary work in my community. We were waiting on the [criminal] licence to finish so that we could put in the last pieces of paperwork to get naturalised.
“My licence would have finished in October, they’ve got me now in detention two months before that was about to happen and served me.”
Christopher’s mum has been left devastated by his sudden deportation and she also worries for her son’s mental health. – Source: MyLondon