Norwich church helps stop member deportation
By Keith Morris
2010: Campaigners from a Norwich
church have succeeded in preventing one of its members, an asylum-seeker and former policeman who blew the whistle on corruption in Zambia,
from being deported back to the African country, where he feared for his future.
Zambian national Raphael Lungu (pictured right) fled to the UK in 2006 to claim asylum after whistle blowing against corruption in the Zambian police force. This resulted in not only his own life being put in danger, but in the assault of his parents and rape of his 11-year-old daughter.
As an ardent Christian who felt strongly that because of his faith he could not be involved in corrupt judicial practices, Raphael came into direct conflict over a period of time with fellow officers in the Zambian police force and eventually high ranking judges and government officials.
After intimidation and attacks on his family – including his daughter (now 15 years old) - he was advised to seek refuge elsewhere and not to return to Zambia. As he had visited the UK in his capacity as a second-hand car parts salesman and as a resident of the former British protectorate Northern Rhodesia (as Zambia then was), he came to the UK in 2006 to claim asylum.
On Tuesday (June 8), Raphael faced a third attempt at deportation back to Zambia. He resisted the first two attempts and during the second he was allegedly assaulted by an official from the UK Border Agency.
Due to the efforts of friends and campaigners from Norwich Central Baptist Church (NCNC), which Raphael attends, a last-minute injunction was granted to Raphael to stop his forcible removal to Zambia. He is now detained at the Colnbrook Immigration Centre near Heathrow Airport.
Campaign organiser, and NCBC member, Terry Smith, said: “Raphael resisted two earlier attempts to deport him. The second time he was badly beaten by the UK Border Agency guards. He was treated in hospital and left on crutches. The reason for the postponement of the third deportation attempt is new evidence from Zambia and the completion of an investigation by the police regarding the assault.”
It has been extremely difficult for Raphael to procure the relevant court papers to prove his actions against corruption and the UK Border Agency refused Raphael's asylum claim because he did not have enough evidence to prove his claims.
Now, since the intervention of the Norwich church, lawyers in Zambia have gathered more evidence and sent it to the UK and campaigners say it is absolutely vital that this evidence is now considered. With the granting of the injunction there is now time for the authorities to do so
Terry said: “Since 2009, Raphael has attended NCBC and has become thoroughly integrated into the church family. Raphael is a part of our community and has been very popular and a regular attendee of prayer meetings and external social clubs such as badminton and dancing. He has been actively involved in assisting the elderly having waited on table at the weekly luncheon club.
“Outside of Norwich Central Baptist Church, he frequently attended evening dinners of the ‘Full Gospel Businessman’s Fellowship’ (FGBMFI) listening and networking with invited guest speakers and on some occasions, giving speeches of his own.
“Raphael is always good company and a joy to be with, and when you consider the torment he is going through, he must have great inner strength derived from his deep Christian faith,” said Terry. “We, as a church, are endeavouring to give Raphael as much support as possible and are praying for a positive result from all that is taking place on his behalf.”
Dr Anna Rowlands, a lecturer in theology at Cambridge University, first highlighted Raphael’s plight in her role as chaplain at the Oakington Immigration Centre in Cambridgeshire and got the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns on board.
New Norwich South MP, Simon Wright, has also now got involved and is making representations to the Home Secretary.