TWO girls who had made a new life in Huddersfield are to be flown back to Africa.
A runaway mother has been ordered by top judges to send her two daughters back to strife-torn Zimbabwe after she ‘abducted’ them from the care of their loving father.
Vimbai Mutebuka, 31, insisted her daughters are well settled in the UK – the family has been living in Huddersfield for two-and-a-half years – and that to forcibly send them back to Zimbabwe against their will can only do them serious emotional harm.
However, Appeal Court judges yesterday condemned her as a ‘deceitful’ bigamist who had entered the UK under an assumed name and betrayed the trust of the girls’ father, Mannuel Mutebuka, by executing their ‘carefully planned’ abduction from their homeland.
Ordering the return to Africa of 13-year-old Melissa and 10-year-old Trish, Lord Justice Thorpe said their social and cultural roots all lay in Zimbabwe.
He told the court: “Some regard has to be had to the mother’s conduct. If these children are to be brought up by a single parent, there must surely be some benefit to them in being brought up by a parent of integrity, rather than by a parent who has demonstrated a capacity for deceit.”
Although the girls had objected to being flown back to Zimbabwe, the judge said their immigration status in Britain was ‘precarious’ and observed: “Their wishes are inevitably coloured by their experiences and the influence of their mother.”
Lord Justice Thorpe, sitting with Lord Justice Longmore and Lord Justice Moore-Bick, dismissed Mrs Mutebuka’s appeal against a High Court judge’s decision in July that the children must be sent home to Zimbabwe under international law.
A deadline has yet to be set for the children’s return, but it is likely to be within a month, and that leaves Mrs Mutebuka facing an agonising choice whether or not to accompany her daughters back to Africa.
Lord Justice Thorpe said the parents went through a civil marriage ceremony in 2001, shortly before their relationship broke down.
She quit the family home, leaving the children in their father’s care, and, in 2002, tried to get into Britain, although she was swiftly deported.
She finally managed to get ‘spurious’ entry to the UK under an assumed identity, but returned to Zimbabwe in 2004 and resumed contact with her daughters.
The following year, she went through what appeared to be a bigamous marriage with another man, said the appeal judge.
Three days later, taking advantage of the father’s trust during a contact visit, she carried through a ‘carefully executed’ abduction of the children, taking them over the border by bus.