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Zim teenager pleads with British authorities not to send her back home

by Thabo Kunene
04 Mar 2015 at 11:36hrs | Views
Bulawayo - A 19-year-old Zimbabwean teenager whose application for asylum was rejected by the British authorities has pleaded with the Home Office not to send her back home where she was sexually abused allegedly by an influencial official of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Speaking from Yarl's Wood, the UK's most secretive immigration detention centre at Milton Ernest in Bedfordshire, ZandileThusi from Bulawayo said she fled her motherland to Ireland in 2013 to escape regular sexual abuse by a Zanu-PF politician in the suburb of Cowdray Park.

" I came here for protection from the abuse I went through at home but now I am being abused again.If they send me home,I will not survive because the man who abused me is still there," said Zandile.

She told me there would be no one to protect her because most of her relatives died during the massacres in Matabeleland province in the early 80s.

Her father too died when she was three years old and had to be raised by a relative who is also in the United Kingdom who became her guardian.

"I only have a grandmother who is very old and is now living at the old people's home in Bulawayo," said Zandile who has been studying radiography in Manchester.She said she was picked up by immigration officers from her home last month and told she would be deported back to Zimbabwe.

She says she would rather die in the UK than to go back to Zimbabwe.Her guardian also fled to Britain after her family members were killed by government troops in the 80s.She said she reported her sexual abuse to the police twice but nothing was done.

"The man continued abusing me taking advantage of the fact that I was always alone in the house in Cowdray Park," she said.

The politician she claims was abusing her was her neighbour.She then made a decision to flee the country first to Ireland in 2013.On arrival in Ireland she says she was put under the care of the social welfare department because of her age.

While in Ireland she managed to make contact with her guardian who was unable to help her because her papers were not in order.But Zandile somehow managed to find her way into the UK last year.

According to her guardian,the Home Office rejected Zandile's application for asylum on the grounds that her case was not strong enough to be granted refugee permit.She however said she has not been abused at all while at the Yarl's Wood detention centre for immigrants.

The centre is said to be holding about 400 people awaiting deportation to their countries of origin.Yarl's Wood centre was the subject of investigation by Britain's Channel 4 news this week for its alleged illtreatment of detainees.

The government launched an investigation after the Channel 4 News expose of alleged corruption and abuse of detainees at the centre.When it was opened in 2001,it was said to be the largest holding centre for immigrants in Europe.

On January 11 2011,the High Court ruled that the continued detention of children of failed asylum seekers at the centre was unlawful. There have also been a series of allegations of a sexual nature made levelled against staff at the centre especially the guards.

But the key witness to one incident was deported before she was interviewed by police.Records show that 90 percent of the immigrants held at Yarl's Wood are women yet almost half of the staff are male.

Source - Thabo Kunene