Woman denied NZ visa too sick to fly home
Mon, 25 Jun 2012 7:00p.m.
By Jane Luscombe
At just 61, Elize Liebenberg is facing the final few months of her life.
There's nothing the doctors can do to save her. She has three separate terminal conditions, two affecting her lungs, the third her heart. It's anyone's guess which will kill her.
Walking more than 10 steps leaves her struggling for breath, and so she sits. While she's sitting she feels okay, except for the worries that plague her.
"I stress a lot about it, and I've been stressing for quite a while that my visa is not going through. I became ill after I'd done my residency. For the first two years in New Zealand I was fine," says Ms Liebenberg.
She moved here from South Africa three years ago to be with her children. Her daughters Elizabeth and Petro love the New Zealand winters after the heat of Durban, but she's been told by the Government she's no longer welcome.
She says she wants to stay in New Zealand as "there's no one to go back to in South Africa".
"My dad died in 2003. My mum died six months before I came over to New Zealand. And I love New Zealand. I love the cold and the rain."
When Elize Liebenberg arrived, she was fit and healthy. She used to spend her days helping out with the grandchildren while her daughters worked. They urged her to make New Zealand her home and so she applied for residency.
But while her application was going through, she suffered chest pains and was discovered to be very ill. Immigration turned her application down, saying she needed open-heart surgery at a cost of $100,000.
We have a letter from her cardiologist saying that's never going to happen. She's too sick.
Dr Selwyn Wong supports "the humane view that she be allowed to stay with her daughters here as her life expectancy is measured in months rather than years".
He says "she will not need expensive aortic valve intervention", and crucially "she is not fit to fly".
She's appealed against the Immigration decision to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
When her family chased up her appeal they received an email saying there's a 12-month backlog of cases and they're dealt with in the order they're received.
At that rate, she'll be dead before hers is considered.
She owes Middlemore Hospital $12,000 for the initial care she received last year. The family are trying to pay this back and until they do Ms Liebenberg refuses to return for treatment. Elizabeth Liebenberg says her mother feels too guilty to go back into hospital.
Her current visa expires at the end of August, when Immigration expects her on a plane out of New Zealand.
“I don't want to take the taxpayers' money. I'm just asking, when I feel the end is near, I just want to die in dignity,” Ms Liebenberg says.
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17/07/2012 4:27:40 p.m.
There is no way any airline will take responsiblity of flying a passenger who is that sick esp not on a long haul flight like NZ to SA. NZ will have option but to let her stay in NZ.
29/06/2012 11:56:07 p.m.
I have a friend who went to immigration to renew their immigration. They were told their application was refused because it wasnt a good reqson. Family
29/06/2012 1:24:11 p.m.
Aunty Elize you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Please New Zealand help this lady,she is a awesome grandmother, and mother. Please help her to get residency.
29/06/2012 8:13:49 a.m.
petro liebenberg wrote:
Hi everyone, a big thank you for the story on my mother 25/06/12, mrs liebenberg- the fundraising number is 389012017434000 kiwi bank
account name ELIZABETH LIEBENBERG MEDICAL TRUST
28/06/2012 4:38:42 p.m.
To deny this woman the time she has left to spend with her family is heartless.
27/06/2012 7:37:34 p.m.
As her doctor has said she wouldnt need the surgery I dont see what the problem is. Please let us know if there is a bank acct we can donate funds to to help her pay the Middlemore Hospital bill. I could see that this expense weighed heavily on her mind and upset her that her family would be left with this huge bill.
27/06/2012 3:26:47 p.m.
There are a number of reasons it takes such a long time to process immigration applications. The first is the sheer number to get through. NZ is a *highly* desirable place for people to live all over the world and Immigration NZ gets hundreds of thousands of applications each year to process - all of varying quality. The second reason is that each application must be manually processed and checked against immigration standards and legislation - all this takes time, especially if applications are incomplete or case officers need more information.
I dont think this is a poor reflection on INZ atall.
NZ has immigrationlaws for a reason - to protect our beautiful country and its people. If we start making exceptions to anyone who has a sad story, we may as well abolish our immigration laws and open our gates to all in sundry.
There are NZ citizens with equally sad stories, going through just as hard times in their livves who also need compassion, help, medical assistance and support.
26/06/2012 9:02:54 p.m.
Attn John Campbell.
Some of the decisions of our "authorities" leave me truly mystified. What the hell has happened to compassion/sympathy/recognition of fair play/respect for others in REAL strife in their lives; all of which used to be exhibited by NZ authorities?
Has the Great God "Dollar" become the highest deity in this country?
Likewise, where are the magnanimous souls who often stump up at times like this, to ensure reasonable outcomes for deserving people?
It appears that those who work in the Public Service and see fit to fully support wastrels and ne'er-do-wells who suck on the public teat, daily, but still get handouts, are sitting on their hands right now.
As a pensioner I, for one, am porepared to donate the modest amount of $50, which if matched by enough others, should see the current debt satisfied.
Such may well allow this family to comfort their mother/grandmother over her final weeks/months, without the burden of the hospital debt.
How about it John? Let's support this family and shame our faceless bureaucrats.
26/06/2012 4:50:03 p.m.
Talita van der Merwe wrote:
I have visited NZ and and New Zealanders are awesome people. Friendly and hospitable. Your immigration department does not do your country justice. They make it seem if all New Zealanders are without compassion.
26/06/2012 1:36:52 p.m.
An appalling and inhumane situation! Where is the humanity of NZ Immigration in a situation like this. This woman does not have long to live. Surely she should be allowed to spend her last days without feeling like a burden to society? We throw hundreds of thousands of money at people who don't deserve it, and yet begrudge someone like this a few months of peace before she dies. You do have to wonder.
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