Gamu’s X-Factor dream on ice over visa
By Lynn McPherson
Zimbabwe-born X Factor sensation Gamu Nhengu’s TV dreams were left hanging in the balance after UK immigration officials reportedly seized her passport.
The singer, a favourite to win the popular ITV talent show, and her family are set to meet the Home Office within days as they battle to stay in Britain after her mum’s application to extend her visa was refused.
Gamu, 18, has had her passport withheld and it will only be returned if mum Nokutula wins her appeal.
A spokeswoman for the X Factor said: “Gamu’s family are currently renewing their residency application. Providing all goes through, it will not affect her progression in the competition.”
The teenager – who bookies have already installed as one of the frontrunners to win the ITV talent show – faced having to drop out, despite being voted through to the “judges’ houses” section of the show.
Gamu’s mum Nokuthula, 38, left Zimbabwe eight years ago and settled in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, with her daughter and two sons Milton, 12, and Marty, 10. She was in Scotland under a work permit visa, which also covers her children as her dependants.
However, when the family recently applied for an extension, they were stunned when it was rejected. Worried Nokutula is set to meet immigration officials during the week to discuss the new application.
The family’s lawyer Frances Farrell, of Glasgow-based Peter G. Farrell, said: “Discussions are ongoing and we hope the situation can be resolved.”
Gamu wowed the audience and judges at the Glasgow auditions earlier this year with her rendition of Katrina and the Waves’ hit Walking on Sunshine. The teenager was just three when her dad died in Zimbabwe and her mum struggled financially to bring up her children.
Nokutula eventually made the heartbreaking decision to leave them and fly to Britain to study. Gamu and her brothers stayed with family members in Harare while her mum came to Scotland to study for a degree at Stirling University.
Three years later, the familywere reunited in Scotland and Gamu told the X Factor audition audience at Glasgow’s SECC she just wanted to give something back to her mum. The judges all heaped her with praise after her song, with Cowell describing the teenager as “really talented”.
Gamu’s audition has already had more than 1.5 million hits on YouTube – more than any other hopeful on the show – and she dedicated her success to the people of Scotland. She said: “Without this country’s help, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
She added: “I regard myself as a Scottish contestant, because this country has been so good to me. I have loads of great friends and loads of good people around me. It has been great.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We can’t comment on individual cases.” Scottish Daily Record