VOLUNTEER IS RELEASED BUT ASYLUM FIGHT GOES ON
A CHARITY volunteer threatened with deportation on Christmas Day has been released from detention.
Otis Bolamu was taken away from his Swansea home in the early hours of December 19 to a removal centre at Gatwick.
More than 12,000 people signed an online petition urging the UK Government not to deport Mr Bolamu.
However, the BBC reported that his solicitor Jamie Bell said that while the 38-year-old has been released, further submissions must be made before a decision is made on whether he will be granted asylum.
It is claimed Mr Bolamu is particularly vulnerable, as he is said to have fled the Democratic Republic of Congo after campaigning against the regime.
He was suspected of spying for the opposition and supporters said he was in “severe danger”.
He was refused leave to remain in August and has appealed that decision. Meanwhile, Mr Bolamu has been volunteering for Oxfam. He said: “I am not horrible, I’m not a criminal, I never had one letter explaining what was happening or to prepare my case. I never had the opportunity to call my solicitor, my friends or Ty Hafan.
“I’ve been in detention and it’s not been good. Christmas for me, it means something to celebrate, it’s a good time, I’m a Christian, it’s an important time.
“But I was crying because no-one was with me, I was just alone, I was afraid. It was so bad.
“I didn’t eat or drink anything in 10 days, the doctor came and told me to eat but I said ‘never.’”
The Guardian previously reported that Mr Bolamu had been tortured by his government before fleeing to the UK. He was imprisoned for nine days but escaped when a friend of his father’s paid a bribe to the military.
He says that he started to eat and drink again after realising the amount of support he had.
“After Christmas I had the opportunity to have my phone,” said Mr Bolamu. On December 26 or 27 I started to eat and drink water again as I realised the support I had.
“People phoned me so much, I kept having a low battery. People were telling me to be strong.”
Mr Bolamu has made many friends while volunteering in the city’s Oxfam bookshop on Castle Street and has been shocked by the amount of support he has received.
“Ty Hafan and the people of Swansea have helped me so much, thank you, to the charity, community, church, MPS, students. I didn’t think that all these people would be talking about my case, it’s so nice.”
He has also had support from several MPS. Swansea West MP Geraint Davies was one of the people who took up Mr Bolamu’s case. Plaid Cymru leader and Carmarthen East and Dinefwr AM, Adam Price, also urged the Home Office not to deport Mr Bolamu while First Minister Mark Drakeford contacted Home Secretary Sajid Javid asking him to look into the case as a matter of urgency and Labour MP Geraint Davies also welcomed Otis home on Thursday.
However, when Mr Bolamu returned to his house on Thursday he realised his belongings were missing.
“All my clothes and paper from my case were gone. All I have is the clothes that I am wearing now,” he said.
South Wales Police has been asked to comment.
Asylum seeker, Otis Bolamu, who has been released from detention.