Kenyan Man Facing Deportation After Being Tricked and Detained by Australian Immigration Officials

  • John Mwangi and his wife Semisha Mwangi [COURTESY: THE GUARDIAN] File The Guardian
  • A Kenyan Man in Australia, John Mbuthia Mwangi, 31, received a call from immigration officials to appear at the offices over matters of visa extension. He got there only to be detained and scheduled for deportation.

    Details in a report by The Guardian reveal that the man married his wife Semisha Mwangi by traditional marriage, which the Australian government has refused to recognise.

    John has spent the past five weeks in Yongah Hill detention center after he was arrested on February 14.

    He was informed on Saturday that he would be placed on a flight to Kenya on Monday. The wife began lobbying the Australian government to let him stay on official channels on Monday.

    John Mwangi and his stepson, six-year-old Clive Kickett [Courtesy: The Guardian]

    He wonders why the government official wanted to see him since his application for an extended bridging visa had been accepted. He was also told to come alone and ensure his family remained at home.

    “It was a set-up,” he stated. “He could have told me: you are coming in to be detained.”

    Semisha Mwangi is a Noongar woman and the couple married according to Noongar law in Semisha’s family’s traditional land about 200km east of Perth – in 2017, before marrying under Australian law at a ceremony in Perth in December.

    She said John Mwangi is a devoted stepfather to her seven-year-old son, Clive, and co-carer with her to her sister’s three children aged one, three and 12 under an Aboriginal kinship care arrangement.

    “That ripped me apart seeing him in handcuffs like a criminal, escorted out the back like a murderer,” she divulged.

    She said she and the children visited him in detention on Sunday and were worried they would never see him again.

    “My son keeps asking me: when is dad coming home? I have almost given up, thinking that he is leaving today” she added.

    John Mwangi went to Australia on a student visa in 2009 and was transferred to a bridging visa. He had been trying to apply for permanent residency.

    Mwangi’s latest bridging visa expired on 7 February 2019, and he had filed the paperwork to extend the visa and also applied for ministerial intervention, writing that he was concerned their own children would be taken away by child protection if he was not here to support his family.

    “My wife is having a lot of difficulties trying to care for her sister’s children as well, but when there are two of us there it is much easier, I tried to explain that when I applied for ministerial intervention but they kept saying I didn’t meet the date range,” lamented Mwangi.

    Semisha also informed that the department has not accepted their traditional cultural marriage under Noongar law as the date of their marriage, and appears to believe the marriage in December was for immigration purposes.

    The couple has applied for urgent ministerial intervention to allow Mwangi to stay in Australia.

    John and Semisha on their wedding day in Perth in December 2018 [Courtesy: The Guardian]