Deportees ‘drugged’ – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 1st December 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 02 December 2012 14:21

There are allegations that some Zimbabwean deportees from the UK are being drugged or threatened with sedation to ensure they do not kick up a fuss when put on a plane home.


A number of airline pilots have refused to take off when failed asylum seekers have created a scene on board to draw attention to their plight. Women have been known to strip naked. Some immigration lawyers have encouraged this ploy.


The Zimbabwe Vigil knows of incidents when security guards employed by the UK Border Agency have manhandled deportees to keep them quiet, causing injuries. One woman who succeeded in being taken off a flight came to the Vigil still limping several months after such an incident (see Vigil diary of 25th February 2012).


As pressure grows on the UK Border Agency to curb immigration, and mounting parliamentary criticism of their performance, more and more Zimbabweans are being picked up for deportation despite clear evidence of growing political violence as Mugabe prepares to bludgeon his way to another election victory within the next few months (see: - Playing politics with military history).


Some people in rural areas have already been warned that their arms will be cut off if they fail to support Zanu PF – a reminder of the ‘short and long-sleeve campaign’ during the stolen elections of 2008 (see: – Zim Villagers Warned Limbs Will Be Cut Off).


The allegations of sedating deportees were reported at the Vigil today by the Zimbabwean diaspora campaigner Ephraim Tapa, a former trade union leader who fled Zimbabwe after he was tortured in 2002. Mr Tapa, a founder member of the Vigil, said he’d been informed by relatives or friends of four people who were said to have been injected with sedatives or threatened with sedation to facilitate their deportation.


Vigil supporter Chipo Hazel Tafirenyika, who was deported on Thursday night, asserts that UKBA security guards threatened her with sedation if she caused any trouble when she was put on the plane.


‘This is unbelievable,’ Mr Tapa said. ‘This heavy-handed approach is a flagrant breach of human rights.’ Mr Tapa, who is President of the Vigil’s sister organization Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), said the Home Office was being asked to send a representative to explain the position to ROHR’s conference in Birmingham next week. A petition protesting about this practice will be presented.


The increased reports of people being detained for deportation led us to talk to our partner organization, the Zimbabwe Association, about what people should do. They gave us the information you can see below.


Other points

·        Vigil management team member Josephine Zhuga had happy news for us today. After a long battle – when she was told her papers had been lost – she has finally been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK. She has been tireless in her human rights work, fronting the Vigil every week for years. She is very grateful for the support of her church.

·        On 15th September we held a mock wedding to mark Tsvangirai’s nuptials with Elizabeth. Playing the bride in a wonderful wedding gown was Lindy Bare. Somewhat to his surprise, we co-opted Philip Maponga to play Tsvangirai. Lindy and Philip had never met before but the occasion was the start of a friendship which led them to tell friends at the Vigil today that they are now engaged to be married. The Vigil offers them our best wishes for their future.

·        As you will see from our photos, Father Christmas is already active in London. They helped to cheer us on the coldest day of the winter so far. We were further cheered by the tshirt worn by Vigil supporter Kelvin Kamupira which carried the slogan ‘Keep calm and eat sadza’.

·        Our condolences to Sihle Sibanda on the death of her sister. The Vigil took a collection for her.


Information for asylum seekers from the Zimbabwe Association (ZA)


If you get detained (and do not have a legal representative) put your name down for an appointment with a legal aid lawyer as soon as possible. There will be a booking system, probably in the detention centre library. Each detention centre has legal aid firms contracted to provide legal help. These are objective legal professionals. If you are already using a legal aid lawyer when you are detained you should be allowed to continue with them.  Using a private lawyer can be a problem because if relatives are not able to raise the money required the private lawyer will not be able to act for you and may drop your case at the last minute.  (Applying for a Judicial Review is a very expensive business.)


If you are given an appointment with a legal aid lawyer that is after the date of your flight then tell the Immigration Officer and ask for an earlier date. Get them to prioritise your case.  


If a legal aid lawyer says your case has no merit ask them to put their reasons in writing.


If you are not in detention don’t just submit a fresh claim to try to protect yourself. You have to build up your case and prepare all possible documentation. 


If possible:

Scan all your evidence. Put Reasons for Refusal letter in one document. Put Immigration Judge Determination in another document. Put Application for Fresh claim in another document. Put all supporting letters together in another document. Put all press stories in another document.


Keep a version of your evidence electronically and make sure that a trusted friend or relative can access and produce these documents if / when you are detained. 


For further information please check the ZA website; There is a section on detention.

For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.


FOR THE RECORD: 63 signed the register.



·        ROHR UK 2012 National Conference and Election of Substantive ROHR UK Executive. Saturday 8th December starting at 11 am. Venue: St George’s Centre, 98 Bridge Street West, Newtown, Birmingham B19 2YX. For more information, contact: Thandiwe Gwarandu 07503 512 308, Chamu Chisuko 07832 927 606, Jonathan Kariwoh 07949 487 275 and Collin Chitekwe 07957 712 691.

·        Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 15th December from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.  Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria.

·        Film ‘Robert Mugabe: Villain or Hero’. Saturday 15th December at 2 pm. Venue: British Film Institute, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT. There will be a panel / audience discussion. For full details:

·        Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link:  Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.

·        The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.

·        ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.

·        The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani). To download the band’s theme song Vigil Yedu visit: and to watch the video check: To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: and

·        Vigil Facebook page:

·        Vigil Myspace page:

·        To sponsor the Mike Campbell Foundation expedition ‘Sailing across the Makgadikgadi Pans’ which will raise money for the work of the Foundation, go to

·        Useful websites: which reports on Zanu PF abuses and where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.


How can you help?

The Zimbabwe Vigil exists entirely on donations from the public and well wishers. You can help us by donating via a deposit into our account Thank you.