06 July 2005
Up to 50 Zimbabweans will today mount a legal challenge to avoid deportation. A mass bail application will be presented to the Birmingham and London Asylum Immigration Tribunals.
They are among 112 Zimbabweans currently being held in detention centres.
Dozens of the detainees are on hunger strike in protest against the lifting of a ban which, until last November, prevented them being deported against their will.
The Home Office confirmed yesterday that 33 people were declining to accept their food but the United Network for Detained Zimbabweans in the UK disputes the figures and claims nearly 100 are on hunger strike.
Yesterday, a hunger striker facing deportation won a last-minute reprieve as he waited to board a plane at the airport.
It was the second attempted removal to the country in four days that has been blocked through the courts.
Absolom Mashamba, 34, who was on his 14th day without food, was told he was leaving on the 7.45pm British Airways flight to Harare.
He was taken from his solitary holding cell in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, near Gatwick, to Heathrow airport when his lawyers were told the removal plans had been cancelled.
His solicitor, Jovanka Savic, said: “We had lodged proceedings at the High Court to have this removal stopped.
“His removal from the country in this manner would have been illegal. He should not be removed until a judge has had an opportunity to consider his case.”
Mr Mashamba, a former prosecutor, claims he was assaulted by Zanu PF supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who were looking for his sister, a member of the opposition.
He arrived in the UK in 2001 and applied for political asylum but his claim was rejected.
It was not clear whether Mr Mashamba has been granted permanent permission to stay in the country.
The attempted deportation of Patricia Mukandara, 26, was halted one hour before her plane was due to leave on Saturday when a judge issued an injunction staying her removal.
Her lawyers lodged an application for a judicial review of her deportation in the High Court.