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Jimmy Mubenga

Death after restraint on a BA flight

Compiled from various sources
published: 4WardEver UK – June 2011

Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Jimmy Mubenga, aged 46, died on 12th October 2010 after security guards attempted to deport him to Angola on a British Airways flight. He died after being restrained by three guards from G4S, a company that was contracted by the UK Border Agency.

Passengers told police they saw three G4S security guards heavily restraining Mubenga, who they said had been complaining of breathing difficulties before he collapsed. The guards were later arrested in connection with the death. They could face manslaughter charges.

G4S, in a statement, described the incident as one in which Mubenga “became unwell on a flight while being deported”. The Home Office likewise claimed he “became unwell”.

However, campaigners fear any legal process could take months or even years to complete and warn that there needs to be a comprehensive review of UK deportations to prevent a further tragedy.

Mubenga, 46, came to Britain in 1994. According to his lawyer, he had been a student leader in Angola and had to flee after coming into conflict with the regime. His wife fled also. She said; “They killed my father and they threatened to kill Jimmy. They were looking for him. We had no choice but to leave”.

Mubenga, his wife and their young son were given exceptional leave to remain in Britain following a long legal battle. They settled in London, and he worked as a forklift truck driver. They had a further four children.

Video footage captured by a passenger shows security guards restraining Mubenga on a flight to Kenya has been obtained by the Guardian. The identity of the deportee in the footage is not known. However the video provides an insight into the commotion caused when foreign nationals are forcibly removed on commercial flights.

In November 2010 the victims’ family called for a parliamentary inquiry into “systematic problems” with the deportation system.

Mubenga spoke to his wife of more than 15 years for the last time from his seat sandwiched between two private security guards. He had been fighting an increasingly desperate battle to stay in the UK for the four years prior to his death.

His wife, Makenda Kambana said; “He was so sad, he was saying: ‘I don’t know what I am going to do, I don’t know what I am going to do,’ “Then he said: ‘OK, just hang up and I will call you back’… but he never did call back.” He was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

Makenda said; “I feel so sad … I don’t know, I was thinking if I was there to help him. The children just can’t stop crying and I don’t know what to say to them,” said his widow.

It may be some small comfort for his family that Jimmy’s fate has now attracted the attention in death that he never received in life. Their courage in speaking in public, in their grief, is the main reason. We owe it to them to ensure that Jimmy is not once again forgotten. His death must lead to a more humane and proportionate immigration system that recognises migrants as people, not statistics.

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