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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 14:24 GMT
Makosi wins battle to stay in UK
Makosi Musambasi
Makosi Musambasi was a runner-up in C4's reality TV show
Zimbabwean Big Brother star Makosi Musambasi has won her battle to stay in the UK as a refugee.

The ruling was made by the central London asylum and immigration tribunal on Thursday.

The 25-year-old had her working visa curtailed and faced deportation after she left her job as a cardiac nurse to appear on the C4 reality show.

Ms Musambasi, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, came third in the show behind Anthony Hutton and Eugene Sully.

The Home Office gave the former nurse notice to quit the UK in August since she was allowed to stay only as long as she worked as a nurse.

I am not anonymous to the audience in Zimbabwe - I am recognised everywhere I go by children and adults
Makosi Musambasi

On learning of her imminent deportation, Ms Musambasi, who came to Britain in 1998, made an asylum application which was rejected earlier this month.

However, the tribunal ruled that she could face violent confrontation if she returns to her native Zimbabwe, following her lewd behaviour on Big Brother earlier this summer.

Ms Musambasi's antics saw her getting intimate with winner Anthony Hutton in a hot tub and kissing many of her fellow contestants, including the women.

'Not safe'

She told the tribunal she feared for her life should she be forced to return to Zimbabwe, where she claimed she had been branded a "lowlife lesbian".

"It would not be safe for me to return at the moment," she told the hearing.

"The police know who I am now. They know I am scared to return because of documents put in the newspapers."

"She is in a different situation now than she was some seven months ago before appearing on Big Brother," said tribunal chairman Francis Pinkerton.

Big Brother's Anthony Hutton
Ms Musambasi was seen getting intimate with Anthony Hutton

"Before that she had been to Zimbabwe on a number of occasions and presumably encountered no problems."

"The appearance on the show has changed things a great deal."

"Her evidence is that she now does fear to go back to Zimbabwe."

"She is therefore a failed asylum seeker and we find that because she is an involuntary returnee, she is a refugee under the 1951 convention and therefore we allow her appeal on that basis."

As a refugee, Ms Musambasi can now stay in Britain for five years.

I thank God I can stay in the country that I love
Makosi Musambasi

The Home Office said it was "disappointed" by the ruling and may appeal.

"We do not agree with the tribunal that all Zimbabwean asylum seekers are refugees. As with other countries, we continue to believe that claims for asylum should be assessed on their individual merits," a Home Office spokesman said.

However, the ruling ties in with an earlier and wider decision by the asylum appeals body which has effectively blocked deporations to Zimbabwe.

In that key test case in October, the tribunal found that conditions in the country were so bad that the return of anyone who had sought asylum in Britain, no matter how fraudulent their claim, would expose them to potential abuse because of the animosity between President Mugabe's regime and the UK.

Ms Musambasi said after the ruling: "My legal team have worked entirely hard for me. I thank God I can stay in the country that I love."

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