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Published On: Tue, Jun 16th, 2015

Elderly couple’s desperate plea to return to England after violent attacks in Zimbabwe

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by Gloucestercitizen.co.uk

BATTERED and bruised, a pensioner who fears for her life in Zimbabwe is urging the British government to allow her and husband Gerry to move back to England.

Desperate to escape Harare nightmare ... Sandra and Gerry De Clerk

Desperate to escape Harare nightmare … Sandra and Gerry De Clerk

Sandra De Klerk, 75, is fighting to get her husband Gerry, 80, a UK visa after the couple were brutally assaulted during two break-ins at their home in Harare.

Traumatised and living in fear, the couple are desperate to move back to Stroud, a market town in Gloucestershire.

But Mr De Klerk has a Zimbabwean passport, making it difficult for the couple to secure a visa.

To ensure family migrants can stand on their own feet financially, Government rules mean that Mrs De Klerk must provide evidence that she has an annual income of at least £18,600 or that the couple have cash savings of at least £62,500.

Because of the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar in the 1990s, the pair’s combined retirement savings were lost.

Unable to raise the money required, the couple have found themselves stranded in Zimbabwe.

The couple met in Zambia in 1969 and married in Stroud in 1976 before settling in Harare.

They have since suffered several break-ins but last year two men gained entry into the house and attacked the couple, knocking Mr De Klerk to the ground and strangling Mrs De Klerk, demanding money.

“I was beaten and threatened with death until I told them where there was some money,” she said.

“They took over $1,000, credit cards passports and items of jewellery.”

The couple upgraded their security systems but in April their home was targeted again.

Intruders cut through metal bars which cover the windows and dragged the couple into the bedroom, breaking Mr De kerk’s nose.

When no money or valuables were found the men began beating Mrs De Klerk around the head.

“We have a rapid response to a security company but we were unable to reach the panic button,” said Mrs De Klerk, whose entire family live in Gloucestershire.

“My husband was knocked unconscious and dragged to the bedroom by his arms breaking several fingers. I was again strangled and beaten round the head.

“We were both taken to hospital and treated for our injuries and had brain scans and chest x-rays. I had bleeding behind my eye and concussion.

She said the couple is too scared to stay in their home overnight and are now staying with her husband’s son and daughter-in-law.

She added: “We only return to the house during daylight.”

The couple have tried to make arrangements to move to Stroud but are unnable to meet the visa requirements.

Mrs De Klerk’s son Peter Cooke, who lives in Stroud, said: “Her greatest desire is to return to the UK for their safety.

“With the numerous forms to fill in and the fiscal requirements they feel they have a mountain to climb.”

This article was originally published by the Gloucester Citizen.

 

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