By Sarah Nathan & Ben Todd – She is making a last-ditch attempt to stay in Britain by claiming she will face persecution in her homeland.
But X Factor reject Gamu Nhengu is likely to be turned down – after it emerged that she has enjoyed holidays in Zimbabwe.
The talented 18-year-old has tearfully claimed that she will face a ‘firing squad’ if she is forced to return to the country under Robert Mugabe’s regime.
In search of a safe haven: X Factor reject Gamu Nhengu is fighting deportation to Zimbabwe – but she holidayed there ‘a couple of years ago’
However, sources in Zimbabwe say that, since arriving in Britain as a young girl, she has made return visits to the country to see relatives, with the most recent trip being just ‘a couple of years ago’.
Home Office officials are expected to take a dim view of Miss Nhengu claiming she fears persecution in a country she was prepared to visit long after finding a safe haven in Britain.
Talented: Gamu when she auditioned for the X Factor before her family’s visa application was turned down
It was revealed last week that the aspiring singer and her family could be deported after the visa application made by her mother, Nokuthula Ngazana, was turned down.
Under immigration law, the family is not entitled to appeal.
The only option left open to Miss Nhengu is to claim asylum in the UK – but she will be at a disadvantage because she has already lived in Britain for seven years on a visa without telling officials she fears persecution in her homeland.
And since a block on the removal of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe was lifted earlier this week, if Miss Nhengu’s case is turned down under the ‘fast-track’ asylum procedure, she could expect to be deported as little as six weeks after making an application.
The news of the teenager’s visits to Zimbabwe comes amid claims that her father died in suspicious circumstances after becoming a critic of Mugabe, the country’s tyrannical leader.
According to a family member, lawyer Thompson Nhengu risked the fury of the dictator’s brutal regime by writing articles for a magazine that Mugabe later banned.
Mr Nhengu was killed in a road crash in 1994, just three years after his daughter was born, and the source said the Nhengu family always believed he was the victim of a politically-motivated murder.
They added: ‘People don’t like to talk about Gamu’s father because to do so here is dangerous.
‘He wasn’t affiliated to any political party in particular but he was often outspoken and in Zimbabwe that can be very dangerous.
‘He passed away one night when he was alone in his car. Officially it was described as an accident but many people believed that he had been killed.’
She added: ‘I’ve been in the public eye now and people there know I’ve fled Mugabe’s regime. They will punish us if we go back.’
The aspiring singer has received the backing of Cheryl Cole, who has said she is sorry that Miss Nhengu is facing deportation – but defended her decision not to put her through to the X Factor live shows.
During an interview with Piers Morgan this week, due to be screened on ITV1 on October 23, the singer insisted she had made the right choice by selecting Katie Waissel and Cher Lloyd.
Broken dreams: The singer after being told her X Factor dream was over – now she faces her nightmare of being deported back to Zimbabwe – DailyMail