Women speak out in Parliament against detention, deportation, privatisation and profiteering. 14 January 2010
Report of meeting and more speeches
I was very ill when I was in detention and needed a wheelchair to get around. They wouldn’t give me one so I often had to go without dinner and health care because I couldn’t leave my wing. When other women tried to help me by bringing food back from the canteen, the staff stopped them. They were rude and said I was pretending to be ill. One of my friends in Yarl’s Wood told Black Women’s Rape Action Project about me. They helped me get a lawyer and eventually I was released from detention so I could pursue my asylum claim and take legal action against the way I was treated.
Then a few weeks later, I was suddenly taken back into detention. My lawyer faxed Yarl’s Wood as soon as he heard to say I was meant to have more time to put in my claim. On the same day a man and a woman came to my room with a wheelchair and told me that they were going to take me downstairs to release me. But at reception, I was suddenly told that because the fax from my solicitor wasn’t on letter headed paper, it wasn’t authentic. They took the wheelchair away.
I called my MP because I was afraid they were taking me to the airport. He told me not to worry because my case was not closed and it would be illegal to remove me. But after a while, two men in suits and a paramedic came with the Home Office caseworker who said they were taking me back home. I called my MP again, who asked me to pass my phone to one of the officials. He told them that the removal was illegal because I should have been given three days notice. I only got the removal directions when I was being taken to the bus. My MP wrote to the Home Secretary on my behalf but to no avail.
At the airport I was handcuffed, dragged on the ground, my arm badly twisted and, by the time I was forced on the plane, swollen. I had three men escorting me plus the paramedic who didn’t do anything to stop the abuse. It was only after I was on the plane that he asked me if I needed any help. I told him, “If you didn’t want to help me earlier. I don’t need you now”. The pilot said I could cry and shout as much as I wanted; he couldn’t help and I had to go back to my own country.
I was handcuffed and had my arms and legs tied with a rope. The escorts and paramedics, and some other people who were not in uniform, were making fun of me and abusing me. When the plane landed, I found that the £800 I had in my bag had been taken. I had no passport or other papers as they had been confiscated when I was first taken to detention. Now I have no money, no way of identifying myself in South Africa and because of that I can’t go to the doctor or to the bank. I still have severe health problems and can’t move around especially after the violence I suffered in the removal. It is not safe for me to live in South Africa. Now I am still trying to bring a case under Human Rights Law about the terrible way I was treated whilst I was in detention and when I was removed, and I am trying to get my MP to help.