The UK Home office has refused to grant a visa to the daughter of Mrs Vera Godfrey who is suffering from advanced cancer and now under respite care in a UK hospice.
Speaking to BBC, Mrs Godfrey, who moved to the UK from Malawi over a decade ago, said that she would like to share some of her final moments with her only daughter, Chimika Mwamba who is in Malawi and works as a nurse.
According to the BBC report, the home office has refused her a visa over fears she may not return to her country of origin.
However, Chimika has categorically denied this, stating that she doesn’t want to go to the UK for work, but rather, just to be with her dying mum and take care of her.
“She has been told me that she is dying …in short, so who wouldn’t want to be with their parent in a situation like..”, queried Chimika on BBC.
She emphasised that she is the first born child in the family and her mother’s only daughter.
Angela Godfrey, Vera’s sister in-law said that being a mother and having a daughter herself, if she was in Vera’s situation, she would want her daughter beside her.
She further stated that psychologically, Vera and her daughter Chimika are very close, always texting each other until the last one month when Vera has been critically ill and she feels that it is grossly unfair that the home office has denied Chimika the visa.
Charlie Elphicke, Mrs Godfrey’s MP has blamed mistakes on the application for the refusal and stated that the decision is under review by the home office.
Speaking to Nyasa Times, Chairperson of Nyasa Daughters of Nottingham Ms Brenda Iyoha, expressed shock and dismay at the plight of Mrs Godfrey’s family.
She said that it is inconceivable to expect a family facing such an ordeal to be told that they cannot have their daughter to offer love, care and support for their mother, wife and friend.
“As the chairperson of Nyasa Daughters of Nottingham, and also a daughter and a mother myself, I’ve taken to raising the plight of the family and offered assistance in any way that we can. I understand the government has its rules but I feel in this case they have applied the rules disproportionately and without compassion.
“All everyone wants to see more than anything is Mrs Godfrey to be surrounded by her nearest and dearest at this difficult time. If a guarantor is required for Ms Chimika Mwamba’s visa application, I will put myself forward”, she added.
Immigration lawyer and legal expert, Sherrif Kaunde of Liberty Immigration Services also expressed surprise at the home office’s decision.
“We are pretty much surprised with the Entry Clearance Officer’s (ECO) approach in this matter. Clearly, this matter raises sufficient compelling and compassionate circumstances to justify the Secretary of State exercising her discretion in the Applicant’s favour and exceptionally grant entry clearance outside the immigration Rules to enable her travel to the UK and spend time with her ill mother”, explained Kaunde.
He emphasised the fact that on the general, one would expect that the Applicant meets all the requirements under which Visitor visas are granted. However the ECO is tasked to assess all the evidences submitted with the application including those that state the purpose of the visit. “Under the circumstances in which this application was made, we fail to find the reason why it was refused and question the ECO’s failure to find sufficient compelling circumstances for him to exercise the powers of discretion granted to him by law”, added Kaunde.
Chimika’s visa refusal has once again called into question how Malawians, and Africans in general, are viewed by the UK and other western countries. Understandably, immigration is a big issue for these countries and by all means it must be controlled.
However, there are special circumstances, like that of dying Mrs Vera Godfrey’s, where human compassion must prevail over statistics. Whilst most people have shown compassion, few have commented on the desire for Africans to take any opportunity to settle in the UK.
Chimika has said it herself that she won’t settle in the UK and become part of the statistics of the much maligned immigrants.
Before coming to the UK, Mrs Godfrey worked as a secretary at Kamuzu Academy, also known as the Eton of Africa for a very long time. It is at Kamuzu Academy where she met her husband, Mr Godfrey, a British Expat who was teaching Geography and Religious studies at this renowned institution.
Upon completion of her husband’s tenure, she joined him in the UK, where she worked as a receptionist in the National Health Service (NHS) in Dover until cancer incapacitated her.