A 29-year-old Zimbabwean national who was deported from the UK last month is bitter that he was bundled onto the same plane with “a rapist and a murderer” and that police at Harare airport did nothing to prevent journalists from taking videos and photos of him as he stepped down from the plane.
Tendai Goremano was among the initial batch of 15 ex-convicts who were chucked out of the UK and placed on a Harare-bound plane after their pleas to avoid deportation failed.
Goremano believes his crime was “too little” to warranty the treatment he continues receiving, adding that while he paid for his crime by being jailed in the UK for it, it seemed he continued being punished wherever he goes.
He was doing a degree in electronic engineering when he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in 2012 after getting into a fight in a London nightclub. He has not been involved in crime since, but was prevented from working or studying after his release from jail in 2013.
Goremano told the UK Independent newspaper this week that he had been living in Britain since he was eight, said he “would probably be dead by now” if a friend in Harare had not been able to accommodate him.
“I was lucky I knew someone. If it wasn’t for him I might be dead by now. I’d be homeless. I don’t know what I’d have done. All my family is in the UK, I have no one in Zimbabwe apart from my friend,” he said.
“I committed a crime when I was young. As far as I know, I never learnt any of this stuff in Zimbabwe, I learnt it in the UK. I’ve gone to prison, done the time for the crime, learnt from my mistakes, but I’m still paying for it. I’m not allowed to progress my life,” he said.
“There were news cameras in our faces when we came off the plane. It felt awful. There was a murderer and a rapist on the flight, so now they’ve put us all in this category.
“Straight away, people hear my English accept and they think straight back to that video. I’m alienated. I stick out.”
The British Government is unrelenting on the deportations, stating that it wants to rid its shores of criminals who abuse British hospitality.
This week, 36 more Zimbabweans are set to be bundled onto another Harare-bound plane, although some might win last minute reprieves.
Among those facing removal this week is Bruce Mpofu, from Bradford, who was handed a deportation order on the basis of a 22-month sentence for robbery in 2010. He has not committed a crime since. He is currently in Brook House removal centre with dozens of other Zimbabweans.
The 29-year-old arrived in the UK with his family aged nine, and his rugby club in Wibsey is fundraising money for his legal fees
Mpofu told The Independent: “I’m terrified. I don’t know what I’ll do out there. I don’t speak the language, I don’t know anyone. I don’t have money.
“I’ve learnt from my mistake over 10 years ago. If I’d been in and out of prison I might understand, but I’ve changed. It’s not fair for them to judge me on a mistake I made 10 years ago.”
The publication reports further that at least three of the deported Zimbabweans were languishing on the streets in Bulawayo and Harare, living on begging.
One of these is a 43-year-old man who was deported on the basis of a 13-month prison sentence in 2012. He said that since completing the 10-day quarantine on arrival, he had been living in a tent on the streets of Harare.
The father-of-five, who did not wish to be named due to fear of reprisals from the Zimbabwean authorities, said he had requested asylum in the UK in 2012 on the basis that he had previously been attacked by the Zimbabwean army due to his political beliefs, but his claim was refused due to limited evidence.
“I’m afraid. I’m having to go to meetings with the Centre Intelligence Organisation (CIO). They’re trying to find out why I was claiming asylum.”
Asked what he intended to do, the man said he will soon cheat his way back to the United Kingdom.
“I need to make it back to my kids. Those people risking their lives crossing the Channel from Calais and all that – I will be there soon.” □