A campaign has been launched to prevent the deportation of a DCU student who fears for his life should he have to return to Zimbabwe.
Shepherd Machaya is facing deportation on Sunday, October 21st.
Machaya, who is a second year Management of Information Technology and Information Systems student in DCU, received the deportation order in September, a few days before he was due to go back to college.
Machaya fled Zimbabwe nine years ago as a result of the torture he faced. Machaya told The College View that he feels his life would be in danger should he have to return to Zimbabwe.
“They tortured me. I was tortured,” he said. He said he was attacked because of that fact that he was vocal against the leading political party, ZANU–PF.
Machaya spoke of one individual he faced who he said had “ZANU–PF in his heart”. He said he was vicious like an animal.
“Unfortunately, one of my friends, he even died”. Machaya said that his friend was not fortunate enough to leave the country when he did.
Machaya said that police in Zimbabwe have little power as the country is controlled by the army.
In 2017, Robert Mugabe was succeeded by his second-in-command Emmerson Mnangagwa as President of Zimbabwe. “It’s the same people, it’s the same principles, it’s the same party that has been killing people,” said Machaya.
“Many people don’t really know what happens in Zimbabwe,” he said. Machaya said the media is state controlled and because of that, “people don’t get it”.
“Zimbabwe is not a safe country”.
Machaya lives in a Direct Provision Centre in Portlaoise. He completed a PLC in Computer Science in Portlaoise College in 2017, as well as over 10 other online qualifications, including one in UX Design.
Machaya first applied to DCU through the Central Applications Office. He received offers from other universities but had his heart set on DCU.
He then learned of the University of Sanctuary scholarship.
Machaya said he fell to his knees and thanked God when he found out that he was one of 10 applications out of the 62 submitted to be accepted for the University of Sanctuary scholarship.
“You just want something, then all of a sudden that something happens. And when that something happens it doesn’t disappoint you, from day one you don’t get disappointed”. He said he fell in love with DCU.
Machaya said he is “100 per cent prepared to do everything [he] could to give back to the school”.
Speaking about DCU, Machaya said: “Everything is just perfect… Everyone I’ve spoken to has been so nice to me, and today I’m in this situation and the school is giving me 100 per cent support”.
DCU Students’ Union launched the campaign “Save Our Shepherd” in a hope to, alongside Machaya’s legal action, make an emotive appeal. They have circulated a petition and written an open letter to Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan.
Philip McKinley from DCU’s Interfaith centre said that Machaya has been a “spokesperson for the University of Sanctuary scholarship”. McKinley said that he has “contributed really dynamically and positively to the university” and that it is vitally important that he be allowed to continue his studies.
“No one wants to turn around on Sunday and say ‘we didn’t do enough’,” said DCU SU President Vito Moloney Burke. “He’s done so much to contribute to this country and develop himself as an individual.”
“I just can’t stop thinking about what will happen if we’re not successful,” said Burke. “He can’t go back”.
By Emily Sheahan
Image Credit: DCU Students’ Union