Updated 1 October 2021: Glasgow Live: Calls for inquiry into death of migrant who fell from Glasgow flat block
Harvey Wittika had been living and working in the UK for more than a decade before his status was revoked – he died alone in Glasgow just months later.
An organisation campaigning for the rights of migrants has called for an inquiry into the death of a man in Glasgow.
Harvey Wittika died after falling from the second floor of his flat building in Glasgow on August 6.
The 37-year-old from Malawi had been living in the city for around six months before his death while waiting for his Leave to Remain.
Before moving to Glasgow, he had graduated with a master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire. After struggling to get work in the industry, he was employed as a chef in Wagamama’s and Nando’s in St Albans before the Home Office refused to renew his application to stay in the UK.
At the time of his death, Harvey had lived in the UK for 16 years and had developed close relationships with a number of his colleagues who described him as a ‘beautiful person’.
Status Now 4 All, a coalition of over 100 organisations and community action groups campaigning for undocumented migrants and migrants in the legal process, have called for a fatal accident investigation into his death and have written to Scotland’s Procurator Fiscal.
Cryton Chikoko, a Migrant Voice Ambassador, said: “The details of his death are scanty but the British Government’s ‘Hostile Environment’ has to be in this frame: I suspect an act of suicide that was triggered by his suffering at the hands of the government department in charge of immigration control – the Home Office.
“Here is a man whose home was the UK, but whose right to work to earn his living was denied to him. This is an intense and continuous stressful situation: stripped of your human rights, in limbo for years, where no right to work and the corresponding means to truly feel settled can push any person into desperate measures.
“Wittika’s suffering was tragic and unnecessary, but not isolated. The Home Office has shattered many dreams and continues to treat many migrants in the UK as if they are the worst sort of ‘criminals’.
The letter written to the Procurator Fiscal’s Office, urges: “For the sake of curbing unnecessary deaths of migrants in the UK and the formulation of humane Home Office policies, it is important that the whole truth that led to Wittika’s death be known so that appropriation remedial systems are put in place.
Following his tragic death, Harvey’s family launched a fundraiser to have his body returned to his home country with a total of £4,417 raised. He was finally laid to rest on September 27.
Pepi Diallo, who worked with Harvey, said: “He was a beautiful person who was always positive and full of energy.
“He wanted to have kids one day and he was always telling me how excited he was to be a father in the future. He was such a good listener and always gave me good advice when I was sad. He knew how to cheer me up. He was hard working and simply amazing, I still don’t know what exactly happened and still can’t believe it. His death has opened my eyes to the fact that nobody is here forever.”
Harvey leaves behind his parents and two sisters.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with Mr Wittika’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
3 September 2021: StatusNow4All: We call for an inquest into Harvey Wittika’s death
This call was made at the demonstration outside Holyrood on 2 September 2021:
The death of Harvey Wittika, aged 37, who died after falling from the second floor of his flat building in Glasgow calls for a thorough investigation.
It is reported that Wittika, a Malawian national, moved to Glasgow after the Home Office refused to renew his application to stay in the UK. At the time of his death, Wittika had lived in the UK for 16 years.
The details of his death are scanty but the British Government’s ‘hostile environment’ has to be in this frame: we suspect an act of suicide that was caused by his suffering at the hands of the government department in charge of immigration control – the Home Office.
Wittika was stripped of his human rights by the state. He lived a miserable, intense and continuously stressful life for many years. He was not allowed to feel settled in the UK. He lived with fear of deportation hanging around him daily. Here was a man whose home was the UK, but whose right to work to earn his living was denied to him. Such a limbo life can push any person to take desperate measures.
Wittika’s suffering was tragic and unnecessary, but not isolated. The Home Office has shattered many dreams and continues to treat many migrants in the UK as if they are the worst sort of ‘criminals’.
Wittika was described by a friend as a wise and beautiful person, a good listener, hard worker, simply amazing and always positive. The University of Hertfordshire Computer Science master’s degree graduate had aspirations to have kids but his life was cut short.
Status Now 4 All engages with many people in the UK who are in the same position that Wittika found himself; many if not most of them have had suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Worse, the deaths of people who are undocumented are becoming ever more frequent and often, being they are far from home, ejected by the Home Office – as Wittika was – forced out of the community support they develop over time in the UK, with no family or friends to represent their interests, or adequate legal representation, their deaths receive cursory attention.
Piecing together Wittika’ story will be difficult as attested by the difficulties which were there to locate his family members in Malawi. It is essential that when someone dies in this way, without their family nearby, organisations with expertise are allowed to represent their interests.
Status Now 4 All calls for an inquest into Harvey Wittika’s death.
There is a fundraising page to help get Wittika’s body back to his family in Malawi. To donate, please click here.