Jimmy Mubenga

Death after restraint by security guards on a British Airways flight

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

Updates on this case are 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 moments 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.

A recently published report by the Institute of Race Relations, “Driven to Desperate Measures: 2006-2010”, catalogues the deaths of 77 asylum seekers and migrants over the last five years, which is attributed to direct or indirect racism resulting from government immigration policies.

Of the 77 they note, “44 died as an indirect consequence of the iniquities of the immigration/asylum system—by taking their own lives when claims were not allowed, by meeting accidental deaths evading deportation or during the deportation itself (Jimmy Mubenga), by being prevented medical care, by becoming destitute in the UK”.


Follow-up News:

Book: The Pride of an African Migrant: In Remembrance of Jimmy Mubenga
16 April 2020

Racist G4S guard involved in migrant’s death is still allowed to work in private security industry
23 August 2019

UK watchdog criticises treatment of deportees on charter flights
6 July 2017

G4S guards found not guilty of manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga
16 December 2014

Jimmy Mubenga’s family urges CPS to make decision about criminal charges
24 February 2014

Could Jimmy Mubenga’s death have been prevented
13 February 2014

Jimmy Mubenga: Heathrow deportee ‘unlawfully killed’
9 July 2013

Jimmy Mubenga death: G4S guards will not face charges
17 July 2012

Justice for Jimmy Mubenga
9 December 2010

Jimmy Mubenga family call for inquiry into deportation system
1November 2010

In memory of Jimmy Mubenga
30 October 2010

Witness video shows ‘deportee in apparent distress’ on flight to Kenya
22 October 2010

Security guards accused over death of man being deported to Angola
14 October 2010

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