DURBAN: 060912 Congolese refugee Manianga Mukisi is fighting deportation with the justice system holds a picture of his daughter which he might have to leave behind should he loose his battle. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE

Durban - Facing imminent deportation, a desperate Congolese widower made an urgent court bid on Thursday to stay in SA so he could care for his two-year-old SA-born daughter.

Maniaga Mukisi, of Ballito, assisted by advocate Sarah Linscott and ProBono.Org, a non-profit organisation which facilitates the provision of free legal services, brought the application against the Department of Home Affairs in the Durban High Court on Thursday, the day his deportation was to take effect.

Judge Fikile Mokgohloa granted an order interdicting Home Affairs from deporting Mukisi pending the outcome of an appeal or a review to be lodged. She also ordered that the department pay the costs of the application.

Judge Mokgohloa said that the department should take these cases seriously.

“The attitude of the respondents is, at times, appalling, if we have to go to an extent of having such organisations as ProBono.Org just to help with simple things,” said Judge Mokgohloa.

Mukisi said in his affidavit that he came to SA as a refugee in 2005 and, two years later, began a relationship with SA woman Phindile Ncele.

They had a daughter, Princess Angela Ncele, in June 2010.

He had intended to marry Ncele and had paid lobola to her family.

“We never underwent any wedding ceremony, but I was advised by in-laws that the payment of lobola and the acceptance thereof constituted an acknowledgement that we were in fact married by customary laws,” he said.

Ncele was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and died in June this year before the couple could get married at the Home Affairs Department.

He said they had gone to Home Affairs twice in the final stages of Phindile’s illness to get married, but were told they could only get an appointment next year.

Mukisi said that soon after Ncele’s death, he received a notice that his appeal to remain in the country had been rejected.

He said his daughter was now staying with Ncele’s mother in Hluhluwe and he was worried about her well-being if he was forced to leave.

“The extended family are very poor and I am the main source of financial support for her. If I am deported, that support will end and I do not know what will happen to her. I am the only one who can look after her,” he said.

Mukisi tried to apply for permanent residence since he was the parent of an SA child, but Home Affairs officials refused to process his application.

In e-mailed correspondence, Nalene Balgobind, centre manager of Durban Refugee Affairs, said: “The stay will not be extended. Should he wish to apply for permanent residence, he may do so from his country of origin.”

Mukisi said that the decision to refuse his application was “improper’. - The Mercury