A Malaysian in detention pending his deportation from Australia, died in an immigration detention centre, with a fellow inmate claiming he was in despair over his predicament.
According to an Australian Associated Press (AAP) report, the death last week came amid delays in Australia’s deportation system because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Muhammad Hafizuddin Zaini, 29, had been in immigration detention for five months after being caught for smoking a joint, which led the authorities to discover he had overstayed his visa by a few years.
He was detained in Adelaide and later moved to Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.
The report said Hafizuddin had hoped to be back home with his family within a short period of time.
“He was always telling me: ‘I’m just wondering if they’re not going to send me (home)’,” a fellow detainee. also waiting deportation, told AAP.
It added that on the morning of Dec 12, Hafizuddin and his detainee friend had a smoke in his room.
They discussed their lack of an exit date and the absence of communication from the authorities. The friend then went back to his own room.
Later on, Hafizuddin’s room was found locked and a guard was called to open it. An ambulance was called, and he was pronounced dead at Liverpool Hospital, the report added.
The Australian Border Force confirmed the death a day later. “The matter has been referred for investigation to the appropriate agencies, including the NSW coroner,” a spokesman said.
Hafizuddin’s friend, who AAP has chosen not to name, was deeply saddened by the death.
“He was a very, very good guy. He’s very quiet. Doing his own things,” he told the agency.
AAP reported the pair often talked of what they hoped to do with their lives once back home.
According to the report, the friend had tried to be buoyant, as he noticed Hafizuddin falling deeper into despair.
The report quoted the friend as saying that in his final weeks, Hafizuddin had been skipping meals and sleeping all day.
Hafizuddin was first arrested about five months ago when a neighbour next to his Adelaide residence called police after seeing him smoking marijuana.
A background check revealed he had overstayed his visa by a few years, AAP said.
The Border Force said the global pandemic had affected Australia’s deportation system, saying “a significant reduction in the availability of commercial flights has impacted its ability to conduct escorted removals of high-risk individuals”.
However, some deportations had proceeded in spite of restrictions. – FMT