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Woman accused of faking illness to avoid UK deportation died five days later

By Benjamin Butterworth | inews.co.uk |

A woman who collapsed during a forced deportation from the UK was accused of faking her poor health by immigration officials, only to die five days later.

Nancy Motsamai and her husband Fusi on holiday in Scotland in 2017
Nancy Motsamai and her husband Fusi on holiday in Scotland in 2017

Nancy Motsamai, 35, fell ill while being taken to Heathrow airport for a flight deporting her back to South Africa. Her husband, Fusi Motsamai, said that when Nancy tried to explain feeling unwell an official told her “he would handcuff her hands and feet and make her walk to the plane like a penguin”.

Mr Motsamai, also 35, condemned his wife’s treatment and said that the Home Office had not sent his wife’s passport to allow her to be buried.

He told the Guardian: “We repeatedly asked the Home Office to release Nancy’s passport to allow her body to be transported to her home country for burial but they did not.” The Home Office has referred the case to the independent prisons and probation ombudsman for investigation.

‘Faking her collapse’

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Mr Motsamai said his wife reported feeling ill while at Eaton House, an immigration centre in Hounslow, south west London. When the couple were taken to Heathrow airport several hours later she collapsed in a corridor.

“An immigration official at the airport accused Nancy of faking her collapse to avoid being put on a plane,” her husband said. “He told Nancy that he would handcuff her hands and feet and make her walk to the plane like a penguin, and that he would put her onto the plane even if he had to carry her.”

Officials then opted to put the couple into detention instead. “We were detained separately, but after we were released Nancy told me that a nurse at the detention centre told her she was too ill to be detained, but the nurse was overruled by a superior and she was held overnight,” said Fusi Motsamai.

The next morning both of them were released, but she collapsed and died of a pulmonary embolism five days later. Threats after death Mr Motsamai said his grief was made worse when the Home Office sent a text message to his wife’s phone warning her of penalties if she did not attend an appointment at a Home Office reporting centre – two weeks after she had died.

The couple’s barrister, Linda Appiah, had advised the government’s legal department of her client’s death in a letter dated 16 March.

The Home Office said it was not notified until 23 March, a week before the text was sent on 30 March. The Home Office has confirmed that the text was sent after they were notified about her death and said it was “working urgently” to pass her passport on to the South African authorities.

A spokesperson said the texting error was caused by an automated system that had not been updated. A decade in Britain The couple had worked in the UK for more than 10 years and Nancy was involved in her local community as a committed Christian.

Paying tribute to his late wife he said: “Nancy was the kind of person who would light up the room with her smile.

“She loved helping others and volunteered to help at the church with different youth programmes. She believed in justice and used to get cross when injustice happened to others and no one was held accountable for it.”