Former Withington MP and the city’s sole opposition councillor, John Leech has urged the government with a petition to prevent the deportation of local hero, Robert Chilowa

Robert Chilowa saved a young boy and girl from his neighbour’s burning house back on February 10th and was praised for his bravery by Manchester’s police.

Chilowa ran into the blaze after being altered by the older sister of the two, that they were trapped inside, Mr. Chilowa told the two to jump into his arms and he would catch them.

The fire did however claim the lives of the children’s grandparents. Mohammed Awad, 56, and Hasma Awad, 47, died at the scene.

Despite his heroics, Robert Chilowa, 46, now faces deportation from the U.K. after receiving a letter from the Home Office last week informing him that he had no right to stay and he will be deported back to Zimbabwe.

Robert Chilowa has been seeking political asylum in Manchester from the despotic regime of Robert Mugabe.

John Leech, Withington’s former MP of ten years, has launched a bid to grant Mr. Chilowa permanent residence, in the U.K. The city’s opposition councillor has setup a petition which has garnered almost 7,000 signatures to keep Robert in Manchester.

Deportation of local hero
Former Withington MP, John Leech.

After meeting with Robert Chiwola two weeks ago, the veteran politician wrote a strongly worded letter to the Home Office Secretary, Amber Rudd, demanding Mr. Chilowa’s residence to be made permanent.

Last week Mr. Leech made his letter public, calling on others to pledge their support – so far more than 1,000 people had backed him.

The former Liberal Democrat MP said: “Unless you live and work here in Withington, you simply cannot appreciate just how much that fire rocked our community. Flowers from across the whole city piled up outside the family’s home; it was a deeply painful time for everyone locally.

“People like Robert make Manchester the thriving, diverse, international and world-class city it is today. We don’t want him leaving, we want him involved in our community.”

“Manchester is a diverse, welcoming and tolerant community and I know that every single person here is ready to welcome Robert with open arms.”

In a further direct and passionate appeal to the Government, Leech pleaded with the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd: “Deporting Mr. Chilowa would be an act of gross injustice, critically undermining our sense of humanity and our commitment to inclusion and tolerance.

“I urge you to show compassion in this case, and allow Mr Chilowa to remain here in the U.K.”

Deportation of local hero
The damage to the house that the fire caused.

With the online petition attracting almost 7,000 signatures and Mr Leech’s intervention, an extension on the deportation deadline was granted, and a final hearing will be held next week to determine whether he can stay.

You can support the petition to stop Mr Chilowa’s deportation here.


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