Obese South African gets reprieve from deportation

2013-09-09 10:28

Wellington – An overweight South African threatened with deportation from New Zealand because of his obesity has been granted a 23-month reprieve.

However, Albert Buitenhuis will not be entitled to any publicly funded healthcare over the next two years, said associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye.

Buitenhuis – who now weighs 130kg – appealed to the minister two months ago when his work visa renewal application was rejected because of the demands his obesity could place on New Zealand’s health system.

When Buitenhuis and his wife, Marthie, moved from South Africa to the New Zealand city of Christchurch six years ago, Albert topped a massive 160kg and until this year the annual work visa was renewed without any problem.

After reviewing information leading to the threat of deportation, Kaye said she had “made a decision giving Mr Buitenhuis a work visa for 23 months”.

“Under this arrangement he is not entitled to publicly funded healthcare and he will have to meet any health costs himself,” she said.

Buitenhuis was not immediately available for comment.

An Immigration New Zealand spokesperson said in July that Buitenhuis was rejected because his obesity put him at “significant risk” of complications, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obstructive sleep apnoea.

“It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimise costs and demands on New Zealand’s health services,” he said.

A recent OECD report listed New Zealand as the third most obese developed nation behind the US and Mexico.

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