South African woman with British husband of 44 years given two weeks to leave UK

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A woman who married her British husband almost 50 years ago is “petrified” after being told to leave the country by the Home Office.

South African national Carolyn Hirst moved to Wales five years ago with husband Michael after they were robbed at gunpoint at their home near Durban.

The pair, who married in South Africa 44 years ago, moved in with their daughter, Nikki Blandin De Chalain, at her home in Aberedw in Powys.

However, despite being married to a British man and her daughter holding a British passport, 79-year-old Mrs Hirst’s application for indefinite leave to remain was turned down by the Home Office.

The department then told Mrs Hirst she had two weeks to appeal or leave the country, her daughter said.

Mrs Blandin De Chalain, 41, said her mother is “petrified” and has been prescribed sleeping pills because of the worry it has caused her.

She added: “As a family we are completely anxious.

“My mother is scared after the attack; she has no home (in South Africa), no belongings, no pension.

“She is absolutely petrified.”

The Home Office sent a letter to Mrs Hirst, dated May 10, which said her application had been rejected.

It added: “I am writing to you to inform you that your outside the rules application and human rights claim made on November 18 2018 has been refused.

“You can appeal this decision.

“If you do not appeal you must leave the United Kingdom.”

Mrs Blandin De Chalain said the family have appealed against the decision, but have no idea what the outcome will be.

She told the Press Association that the Home Office contacted the family on Monday evening, saying that if they provided more evidence it would consider looking again at her mother’s application.

But she said the department had stressed that it did not mean the outcome would be any different.

A Home Office spokesman said on Tuesday: “In light of further information received, we have contacted the family to advise them that we will reconsider Mrs Hirst’s application.

“We will take into account any additional evidence that is submitted.”

Mrs Hirst and her husband decided to move to Wales to be with their daughter and her family after they were victims of an armed robbery at their home in South Africa.

Mrs Blandin De Chalain said the robbers broke into the property in the middle of the night while her parents were asleep, and then held them at gunpoint for 12 hours.

She said her father had been stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver and was so shocked he could not speak for weeks after the attack.

But she said the Home Office had told her mother that one reason for its refusal of her application was that she had lived in South Africa long enough to be able to reintegrate herself there.

Mrs Blandin De Chalain said the department had suggested that the rest of the family should move to South Africa with her mother.

She added: “I am extremely pissed off.

“We have a right to be here and indirectly so does my mother, so why should we all have to leave based on a decision made by the Home Office which is unjust?

“She has no life back in South Africa.”

Mrs Hirst’s case has received letters of support from Brecon and Radnorshire Tory MP Chris Davies and Welsh Assembly member Kirsty Williams.

Mrs Blandin De Chalain has also started an online petition in support of her mother, which has gained more than 550 signatures so far.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.