Chester father reunited with family after Home Office lifts his 18-month exile

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On a scrap of writer down a reddish ceramic lodging property successful Chester, Siyabonga Twala stops to get his activity backmost arsenic his boy Mason dribbles a shot past him.

“You’re excessively accelerated now,” he laughs, his thorax heaving.

The segment would beryllium unremarkable but moreover a week agone Twala would not fto himself dream for specified a moment. “I was frightened that I’d ne'er beryllium successful his life again,” he admits, looking connected astatine his boy arsenic he flicks a shot into nan net.

For nan past 18 months Twala, 35, had been surviving successful limbo successful Ankara since he was prevented from boarding a flight backmost to Manchester aft a vacation pinch Mason and nan remainder of his family successful December 2022.

Last week nan Home Office withdrew an removal order that was preventing him from returning to his British boy and life successful nan UK, conceding that it should ne'er person barred him.

In nan early hours of Tuesday morning, Twala yet made it location again.

Siyabonga Twala pinch arms folded astatine a array looking towards a window
Siyabonga Twala backmost location successful Chester aft 18 months successful Turkey. Photograph: Mark Waugh/The Guardian

Mason was 8 erstwhile they past lived successful nan aforesaid state and will beryllium 10 adjacent month. Twala is acutely alert of nan mislaid time.

“I didn’t cognize you’d sewage that good,” he says of Mason’s shot skills, smiling arsenic he dribbles nan shot past him again. The moments of happiness are besides tinged pinch loss. “I’ve missed out. He’s grown truthful fast.”

The lawsuit is simply a reminder of nan measurement that nan Home Office’s hostile situation policies continued to pass ministers’ thinking.

Twala was fixed indefinite time off to stay successful nan UK successful 2010 having lived successful nan UK since nan family moved from South Africa erstwhile he was a teenager. He was barred from travelling backmost to Britain because of a 2018 condemnation for cannabis possession pinch intent to supply. He had spent 4 months successful situation for his crime and connected his merchandise he retrained and had a dependable occupation arsenic a lorry driver, while looking aft Mason astatine weekends.

Last week it emerged that nan Home Office had decided to let him backmost to nan UK successful March 2023 connected nan aforesaid time arsenic nan Guardian published a 2nd article astir his situation. But nan then-immigration curate Robert Jenrick intervened to artifact his return and an removal order, usually reserved for terrorists and different superior offenders, was issued successful July.

The move near Twala stuck successful limbo successful a unusual state for different year.

Siyabonga Twala successful Turkey.
Siyabonga Twala successful Turkey. Photograph: Tunahan Turhan/The Guardian

When nan Home Office yet withdrew its removal bid past week it was little than 24 hours earlier a judicial reappraisal proceeding was owed to commencement connected his case.

After nan withdrawal, Twala had to strengthen different 5 days of purgatory successful Ankara earlier nan Home Office managed to nutrient nan paperwork he needed to fly.

Even then, it was not a straightforward journey. Walking into Ankara Esenboga airdrome connected Monday night, nan spot wherever his ordeal began, he said: “I was scared. I conscionable had a emotion thing was going to spell wrong.”

Turkish separator officials stopped him from flying initially, Twala said, saying he was told he had “violated” his visa by much than 500 days. He paid a £200 good and is barred from returning to Turkey for a twelvemonth – not thing he had immoderate plans to do.

Twala made his formation and was owed to onshore successful Manchester astatine 2.30am. Twala said he was delayed while separator unit officials waited to person an email and erstwhile he yet sewage to baggage claim, location was nary motion of his suitcase.

Mason had insisted he wanted to travel and cod his dada pinch his grandparents but arsenic nan hours ticked by, he started to interest if he was going to come. It was astir 6am earlier Twala yet emerged done nan arrivals gate.

For Mason it was worthy nan wait. Sitting together connected his grandparents’ sofa hours later, he said: “It feels bully to person my dada back.”

An overhead changeable of Mason connected a telephone surface successful Siyabonga Twala’s hands successful a edifice room
Twala successful nan edifice he stayed successful in Ankara, Turkey, connected a video telephone to Mason. Photograph: Tunahan Turhan/The Guardian

Twala’s curen has taken its toll connected a family who had ever felt portion of British society. His dad, Siyabonga Twala senior, worked successful nan NHS for galore years arsenic a caregiver and now useful successful a section attraction location alongside Twala’s mum, Gloria.

He says watching his boy and grandson suffer has been “too much” and he blames it for his caller return trips to nan GP pinch rising humor pressure.

Twala said past week he had been “a unfortunate of politics” and his dada besides wonders what it has each been for. “They should person done better. They were excessively harsh to beryllium a constituent … All these 18 months of him being stuck successful Turkey I don’t deliberation anyone won anything,” Twala elder said.

Twala’s acquisition besides shows nan measurement nan dispute situation tin interact pinch a justness strategy that is overmuch much apt to send achromatic men to situation for supplier offences.

In 2022 Rishi Sunak pledged to double deportations of group convicted of crimes who do not person citizenship. Like Twala, galore of those treated arsenic foreigners person lived successful Britain since puerility and person British children.

Siyabonga Twala and Mason playing football
Siyabonga Twala and his boy Mason reunited successful Chester. Photograph: Mark Waugh/The Guardian

Twala’s relative has British citizenship and his sister Yolanda, 27, a support worker for abnormal people, has her British citizenship trial later this month. “It’s made maine realise this could hap to anyone,” she said.

She was astatine nan airdrome to invited Twala location and for illustration her parents feels troubled by her brother’s experience.

“I deliberation it would beryllium very different if he was a achromatic South African. As a achromatic man successful nan UK you’re a statistic.”

Twala made a concerted effort to rebuild his life aft prison. He recovered a bully occupation and secured a location pinch a spare room and plot for Mason to play successful erstwhile he stayed astatine nan weekend.

Thanks to nan Home Office, he will now person to commencement from scratch again.

Twala’s occupation driving lorries was kept unfastened initially but erstwhile he had not returned by February, his statement was terminated. “I’ve sewage perfectly nothing,” he said. “Everything is gone.”

He is looking guardant to family clip but daunted by nan standard of nan activity needed to get backmost to wherever he was.

He plans to statesman looking for activity connected Monday. He said: “It’s conscionable rebuilding, rebuilding, rebuilding.”

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Source theguardian
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