Makosi of 'Big Brother' fame allowed to stay in Britain

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Makosi Musambasi, the reality television personality, has won her battle to stay in Britain as a refugee. Her risqué antics in the Big Brother show meant it was now unsafe for her to return to her native Zimbabwe, where she could face hate mobs, the Central London Asylum and Immigration tribunal ruled.

The 25-year-old resigned as a cardiac nurse at High Wycombe Hospital, Buckinghamshire, to go on Big Brother, breaching the rules of her work visa. The Home Office gave her notice to leave in August because she was allowed to stay only as long as she worked as a nurse.

An asylum application by Ms Musambasi, who came to Britain in 1998, was rejected. She also said a relative of President Robert Mugabe had been a lover.

Francis Pinkerton, the tribunal chairman, said yesterday: "She is in a different situation now than she was some seven months ago before appearing on Big Brother. Before that, she had been to Zimbabwe on a number of occasions and presumably encountered no problems. The appearance on the show has changed things a great deal.

"Her evidence is that she now does fear to go back to Zimbabwe. She is therefore a failed asylum-seeker and because she is an involuntary returnee, she is a refugee under the 1951 Convention and, therefore, we allow her appeal."

After the hearing, Ms Musambasi said: "I was petrified of being physically attacked and discriminated against. To me, going back home to Zimbabwe would have meant the end of my life. It is something that you can never express properly, the fear you can have about returning to your own country."

Her Big Brother appearance triggered African media headlines such as "Every Zimbabwean should be ashamed", and branded her a "low-life lesbian".

Her Zimbabwe-based parents, Richie, and Sennie, who needs an operation for a brain tumour near her optical nerve, travelled from Harare to show their support at the hearing.

Her sister Veronica, 22, who graduates today as a mental health nurse, also attended yesterday's hearing.

Ms Musambasi said: "My mother was very stressed to have the whole thing hanging over her. They are all relieved now." During her time in the Big Brother house, Ms Musambasi bared her breasts, kissed female housemates and was alleged to have sex with a male contestant.