'I want to keep my family together': Widowed father faces battle to keep his South African children in the UK because he doesn't earn enough money as a barman
Justin Tutt has been told his children will be deported next month | Seth, eight, and Leigh, five, will be sent back to South Africa | Home Office took the decision because Mr Tutt, 29, doesn't earn enough | They began living with their father in Burnley, Lancs after their mother died | Social worker informed him that 'statistics show that one in five white children are raped or killed' in SA. 'They are targets because they are different. Its very dangerous for white children in South Africa.'
Janine Yaqoob | Daily Mail.UK | 18 February 2013
A father faces having his two children taken into care 8,500 miles away because the Home Office says he does not earn enough money to keep them in the UK.
Barman Justin Tutt, 29, brought son Seth, eight, and daughter Leigh, five, to live in England with him after the sudden death of their mother in their native South Africa.
But despite Mr Tutt holding a British passport and having another son born in the UK, under new immigration rules cracking down on asylum seekers claiming benefits, Seth and Leigh cannot stay here as they must be living in a family earning at least £22,500 a year.
Because Mr Tutt brings home only £120 a week and his fiancee is on maternity leave, the youngsters will be deported in March and are likely to be taken into care.
A South African social worker has now warned the father-of-three that his children could be at 'significant risk' because they are white and maybe singled out for attack.
Today Mr Tutt, who lives with his children, fiancée Clare Miles, 29, their seven-month-old son Jake and Clare's daughter Kaitlyn, seven, in Burnley, Lancashire, said: 'People ask why I don't just go back to South Africa but I have nothing out there and I will lose my family here if I go there.
'Here I have got a house, a job and I am settled and I don't see why Seth and Leigh can't settle with us too.
'I am in a catch 22 but I will fight as much as I have to to keep my boys with me.
'It is impossible for me to go back.
'I just want to have my children here safe with me and yet I'm being told that they aren't allowed to and that they will be put into care.
'All my family live in England, I have no one in South Africa and no life there.
'All I want to do is keep my family here safe and together.'
South African born Mr Tutt, whose mother was born in Britain, emigrated to the UK five years ago to find work and a new life after he and his wife Deidre split up.
Seth and Leigh lived with their mother in Kimberley on the Northern Cape whilst he met Clare and she became pregnant with Jake.
But tragedy struck when Deirdre died in May last year and the youngsters moved in with their great grandparents, aged 75 and 70, in a retirement complex.
Mr Tutt said: 'They had to live with their mother's grandparents but that was only temporary because they are old and the complex is for old people.
'It made perfect sense for the boys to come and live with us in the UK but whatever reason they have been refused permanent visas here.
'One border agency person said we could bring the children over on my British passport and then apply for the children to get British passports when they arrived but another said we couldn't.
'Apparently we needed to be earning £22,500 and then a further £2,800 for each additional child per year. We also needed to have more than £5k in savings.
'We have four children and are getting married in May this year it is not like we have money to spare.
'I could understand if the children's mum was still alive and we were wanting to bring them over but the circumstances are a lot different.
'I am scared about what is going to happen when the day comes when they are meant to be on the flight back.
'The youngsters have been registered at school and at the doctors surgery.
'Yet I have been told that an appeal cannot be overturned, the Home Office don't answer my calls anymore and no one seems willing to help me.
'I have tried to do everything by the book but do not know what else I can do.
'South Africa is a third world country and after speaking to a number of social workers, one turned around to me and said that the children going into care would be the last thing I'd want to do.
'She said that statistics show that one in five white children are raped or killed.
'They become targets because they are different and the children can get separated.
'They cannot go into care in a third world country which has no money or resources.
'It is very dangerous for white children in that environment.'
Clare, who worked as a waitress before she had Jake, said: 'Surely it is your basic human right to be able to keep your own kids.
'We have been in touch with around 25 lawyers and immigration specialists but we have been passed from pillar to post.
'We agree with tougher immigration laws but Justin has a good reason to be here in this country because he is a British citizen.
'The children's great grandparents are at an age where they can't support young children.
'We have had a lot of sleepless nights. The children want to stay and are really happy because they are with their dad.'
In a letter to the British authorities, the children's great grandmother Hannelie Hattingh, 70, said: 'It has had a terrible effect on the children.
'It manifests in their dreams as well as their every day lives.
'They can't understand why they are not able to stay with their father and his family.
'My husband and I cannot raise them because we are pensioners and therefore do not have the financial means.
'Our ages also count against us.
These two children need a healthy family life, there is no other family to stay with in South Africa.'
Lib Dem MP for Burnley, Gordon Birtwistle, said: 'It seems ridiculous that these little children can't just live with their father in the UK who will care for them.
'It is government policy that you have to be self sustainable hence the £22k figure but these are small children and would not be claiming any benefits.
'The service they would be using would be education schooling and the NHS and then from schooling it would enable them to get jobs.
'He is not bringing them to the UK for the state to keep them
'We will be working hard to do everything in our power to stop these two young children being forced to go back to a country where they could face rape and child abuse.'
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: 'The safety and welfare of children is of paramount importance to the UK Border Agency.
'We will contact Mr Tutt to discuss his children’s immigration status.'
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