Lawyer fights to keep sickly 92-year-old South African in UK

2016-02-20 08:37
Myrtle Cothill (

Myrtle Cothill (

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Johannesburg – A 92-year-old South African woman, who sufferers from a chronic disease, could die from a broken heart if she is deported back to the country from the United Kingdom.

Myrtle Cothill's daughter Mary Wills said the deportation would "tear strips out of our hearts and probably would kill my mother".

Cothill has no family in South Africa to help care for her.

Her barrister Jan Doerfel has launched an online petition to call on the UK to grant Cothill leave to remain in the country.

Doerfel said Cothill has been living with her 66-year-old daughter Wills, a British citizen, since she arrived in the country in February 2014.

In the petition, Doerfel said Cothill suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and macular degeneration which causes the loss of sight.

Cothill cannot walk unaided, has a chronic cough, poor vision, has difficulty hearing and is experiencing increasing confusion, he said.

"She is unable to care or cook for herself and relies on her daughter for emotional and physical support; Wills helps her mother with her personal care, housework, cooking and shopping."

Doerfel said Wills and her husband David, who is also British, cannot move to South Africa to look after Cothill because they have no right to live in the country.

David Wills also suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s disease, leaving him unable to travel as both diseases affect his mobility and breathing.

"Both David Wills’ and Cothill’s medical conditions are degenerative and likely to deteriorate further in the future," Doerfel said.

He said the Home Office refused to allow Cothill to remain in the UK and the courts did not believe they could overturn the office's decision.

"This would rip the family apart and leave them broken-hearted," Doerfel said.

He said the UK introduced an immigration rule in 2012 on adult dependant relatives which made it "almost impossible" for British citizens to bring their elderly parents to live with them during their "declining years".

In the petition, Mary Wills is quoted as saying: "My mother just cannot live on her own and emotionally, for her as well as for myself, it would really tear strips out of our hearts and probably would kill my mother [and maybe myself as well]."

In a letter addressed to the Home Office, Doerfel asked that Cothill's leave to remain in the UK be granted and that the immigration rule be amended to allow for the previous rule on family reunion to be put back in place.

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