Freed detainee shares experience

‘It’s so lovely to be free at last’
BY LUKA PHIRI

LONDON - Today I want to share my detention experience with my fellow Zimbabweans across the globe. I am back and it’s so lovely to be free at last. I thank all those who prayed for me to be released and most of


all I will like to thank Zimbabwe Association for their wonderful work in blocking my imminent removal.
As most Zimbabweans I claimed asylum with a profound fear of persecution in Zimbabwe. Back home I was a close aide of MP Thokozani Khupe who has been recently elected vice President of MDC led by Morgan Tswangirai. Congratulations to her, I know she is a hard worker.
Back home I suffered physical torture and when I was detained by the British immigration I suffered psychological torture. You are treated like a criminal and worse if you are a failed asylum seeker. I lost weight and had sleepless nights. My first stop was Dover Removal Centre (DRC). Dover was once a prison and the regulations of the prison still apply to every detainee. I was locked up in cell with a Nigerian guy who had just completed five years imprisonment for fraud. He was waiting for his flight back home.
Inside the cell there is a television, sink, bunk bed, two plugs to charge your mobile, if you have one, and a toilet. The cells are opened at 8 am and 11am we are locked in again. At 12.45 pm the cells are opened for lunch. After taking our plates we are required to have our lunches in the cells. At 5pm the cells are opened for dinner till 8.30pm and then locked again for the night.
I was moved to another detention centre after my first removal was foiled with the help of Zimbabwe Association and my solicitor. This time I was taken to Campsfield in Oxford. The rooms are nicer and bigger and there is free movement the whole day. I even had the privilege of watching sky sports and sky movies on big screen. There is a library where I had my first encounter with The Zimbabwean newspaper.
Later I was moved to Tinsley. At this centre you get the “Harare Sheraton hotel” treatment. This is a five star detention centre. Every thing is done for you. What is needed from you is to sleep and eat and wait for your next flight. Giving the stars Dover will be one star, Campsfield, two stars and Tinsley, five stars. During the day I used to go to the library in the morning to read a paper while my room is been cleaned. Later I will go to the gym for two hours. Have lunch and later play pool. Now I have pool skills and I am contemplating of running for world snooker champions.
After 12 weeks I was released – but the struggle for Zimbabwe’s freedom will continue until we are all free. This atrocious government of Mugabe will soon collapse. For those who are still in detention, I say do not give up. You will be out sooner than you think. Phambili ngokubambana.



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