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By Hugh Boag
An Arran businesswoman fighting deportation has voluntarily left the island she loves.
Lizanne Zietsman, 37, was left with no choice but to quit the UK today (Friday) and return to her mum in South Africa, leaving husband John Malpas to run the popular Sandwich Station cafe on his own.
A petition demanding a U-turn over the decision by the Home Office to deport a Lizanne has been signed by more than 17,500 people, but it proved unsuccessful.
It was presented in parliament by North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson on Tuesday where she said it was a decision ‘which benefits no one and makes no sense’.
Lizanne will now fight for a new visa from South Africa and hopes to be back in two or three months.
The situation, highlighted in the Banner last week, has attracted widespread media attention both in national newspapers and on TV and radio.
Last week Lizanne’s husband John Malpas, who with his wife runs The Sandwich Station in Lochranza, thanked the people of Arran for their generous support of her plea to stay.
And in an interview with The Herald newspaper this week Lizanne echoed that sentiment.
She said: ‘I keep waking up and hoping that it will all just disappear and that it has been a complete mistake. But sadly, not so far. What I can say, however, is that the whole community of Arran have been absolutely astonishing and amazing in their support for us.’
Vowing to return as quickly as possible, she added: ‘There have been lots of hugs and tears over the last few days from everyone I meet. It is truly incredible the depth of feeling and support we have received.
‘In fairness, I seriously doubt whether I would have managed to get through it all this far without this enormous love towards us and our plight.’
Indeed a petition launched contesting the UK Government’s decision to force her to leave her British-born husband has already attracted more than 10,000 signatures.
Lizanne said she plans to appeal immediately against the Home Office ruling as soon as she arrives in South Africa.
However, even if the case is fast-tracked, it could take at least six weeks before the case comes up for consideration, although hopes are high her application for a visa will then be granted quickly.
Mr Malpas, also 37, told the Herald that the couple had been ‘living the dream’ since returning to Arran, where he has family ties, in 2o15.
He said: ‘Since taking the shop on, the business has gone from strength to strength. We had to become VAT-registered early last year and everything continues to grow.’
But their dream came crashing down on Wednesday, June 19, after receiving a letter from the Home Office stating Lizanne’s visa renewal had been refused – and she must cease working immediately.
Failure to comply would result in the business being automatically fined £20,000. But worse still, she was informed she must leave the country – with no right of appeal while she remained in the UK.
It is understood one of the reasons why the Home Office had declined the businesswoman’s initial visa request was because they needed to prove sufficient earnings to support them both. However, Mr Malpas believes the latest accounts from the business will demonstrate they can comfortably meet the necessary financial threshold figures required.
Mrs Gibson said the case was the ‘latest in a long line’ of people wanting to settle in Scotland but being denied the chance.
She said: ‘It honestly defies logic and something must be done urgently to correct this hostile environment being created by the government towards helping people settle in rural communities.’
The couple outside The Sandwich Station they run in Lochranza. NO_B27visa01