The Guardian reveals that a South African woman who collapsed during an attempted removal from the UK was accused by immigration officials of faking illness to avoid being put on a plane but died five days later.
The Home Office has referred the case of Nancy Motsamai, 35, who died on 12 March, to the independent prisons and probation ombudsman for investigation.
Her husband, Fusi Motsamai, also 35, has condemned the Home Office’s treatment of his wife. He also said: “We repeatedly asked the Home Office to release Nancy’s passport to allow her body to be transported to her home country for burial but they did not.”
His distress was compounded when the Home Office sent a text to his wife’s phone on 30 March, more than two weeks after her death, warning her of penalties if she did not attend an appointment at a Home Office reporting centre on 5 April.
The Home Office has confirmed that the text was sent after they were notified about Motsamai’s death and said it was “working urgently” to pass her passport on to the South African authorities. A spokesman said the texting error was caused by an automated system that had not been updated. Rev Lucy Brierley of Woking United Reformed Church, which supported the couple and continues to support Fusi, condemned the UK’s immigration removal system as a travesty and an embarrassment. “This case is an indictment of the administrative chaos in the UK visa and immigration system, “ she said.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with Mrs Motsamai’s family at this difficult time. We take our responsibilities towards detainees’ health and welfare seriously. When there are claims that the highest standards have not been met these will be investigated thoroughly.”