Funeral visas for crash girl family


Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

The parents of a young girl who was killed in a car accident have won their battle for their Zimbabwean relatives to gain visas to attend her funeral in Britain.

Relatives of five-year-old Andrea Gada learned last night that her maternal grandparents and her aunt can travel over from Africa.

Andrea died after being hit by a car in Eastbourne, East Sussex, on December 17, but her funeral has been postponed due to uncertainty over whether her relatives would gain permission to travel to the UK.

This week Prime Minister David Cameron intervened in the case, personally writing to the girl’s parents to say he had asked Home Secretary Theresa May to look into the issue.

Andrea’s parents, Wellington, 38, and Charity, 32, said they can now plan their daughter’s funeral following the go-ahead from the UK Government.

Mrs Gada said: “I’m so delighted that this decision has been made. It had become so stressful because we thought the funeral would have to go ahead without them.

“But we received a phone call saying they had been granted visas and we couldn’t be happier. The support locally has been fantastic and I just don’t know how to thank people for their support. It has helped a lot.”

Mrs Gada said she does not yet know when the funeral will be able to go ahead. A plan to hold it on Monday had to be cancelled, she added.

In his letter to Mr and Mrs Gada this week, Mr Cameron said he knew “the struggle of losing a child first-hand”.

Mr Cameron said: “I was very sorry to learn of the tragic loss of your daughter, Andrea, in a road traffic accident.

“I know the struggle of losing a child first-hand and hope that, in time, you find strength in the memory of the happier times you shared with Andrea.

“I have asked the Home Secretary to look in to the issue of your family members’ applications for visas and provide a full response to your letter.

“You and your family are in my and Samantha’s thoughts and prayers and I wish you all well for the future.”

Andrea’s maternal grandparents, retired street trader Stanley Bwanya, 65, and Grace, 57, and aunt, Monalisa Faith, 21, were last month denied access to the UK by the Home Office, Mrs Gada said.

The decision was later upheld amid concerns that they might abscond. It prompted an e-petition signed by more than 120,000 people calling for the visas to be granted.

Eastbourne Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd had said he would act as a guarantor to ensure that the relatives returned to Zimbabwe after the funeral.

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said Andrea’s family had now provided new information and assurances in fresh visa applications to enable approval to be given.

He said: “The decision to grant or refuse a visa to the UK is often a difficult one. Immigration officers have to weigh often compelling situations against the fundamental requirement to protect the British border and the integrity of the immigration system.

“The UK visa system has rules which allow for a decision to be made on compassionate grounds. Andrea Gada’s family have provided new information and assurances in fresh visa applications to enable them to attend her funeral in Eastbourne.

“In the light of these details and given the tragic circumstances, these have now been granted. My thoughts are with the family at this extremely difficult time.”

Mr Lloyd hailed the decision to grant temporary visas as “stunning news”.

He said on Facebook: “This is brilliant. Huge thanks to everyone who has helped, written in, made a difference.”

Mrs Gada said her relatives posed no risk to the UK and simply wanted to travel over to support them and grieve for Andrea.

The community of Eastbourne helped raise money for the relatives to attend, and the family offered to wear electronic tags and report to the local police station.

In the online petition, Mrs Gada pleaded for her relatives to be allowed in to the UK.

She said: “Losing a child is one of the hardest things a person can experience, and at this time myself and my husband are both longing for the support of our family.

“Having our family together at this time is incredibly important to us, and an important part of our culture.

“Andrea was a wonderful little girl and she deserves a proper farewell. At the heart of it, all I really want is to have my mother at my side whilst I grieve the loss of my child.”

Published: Friday 6th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search