Semisha first met John at a party. It was love at first sight for the pair who have been a couple for five years.
Together they have spent that time raising Semisha’s young son, as well as three other children in Semisha’s care.
They married in a traditional Noongar ceremony two years ago, and made their union legal under Australian law in December.
John, who first arrived in Perth on a student visa, had been moved onto a bridging visa, which he had renewed monthly.
The couple had applied for a partner visa, but had been rejected. Semisha said officials did not believe their marriage was genuine.
«But we are in love,» she said.
«This is not Married At First Sight. I took a gamble on this man and I found love with him.»
In February, John was called to an interview with the Department of Home Affairs.
By Valentine’s Day he was locked up at Northam’s Yongah Hill Detention Centre.
The following six weeks saw John and Semisha urgently apply for ministerial intervention into the matter.
The couple were desperate for John to stay, but they hit dead end after dead end. John’s wife said her husband was not a criminal and had always followed rules and protocols set by authorities.
When Semisha woke up on Tuesday morning she was alone.
“I feel lost,” Semisha said.
“I’m completely empty. My best friend’s gone. The only man in [my children’s] life – gone.
“Why is this happening?”
Semisha said she had been “trying to hold it together” for her young family, but she broke down every night, and had trouble sleeping.
“It has emotionally wrecked me,” she said.
“It’s terrible – the outcome and the decision – it’s just terrible.”
A ‘racist’ decision
National Critical Response Trauma Recovery Project coordinator Gerry Georgatos, who has been advocating for the Mwangi family, said the deportation of John was reprehensible.
“We’ve been able to secure the averting of deportation and their freedom back to within community and family for a number of individuals who were in contextually worse circumstances than Johnny, so his deportation is a reprehensible indictment of both the Department and Ministry of Immigration,” he said.
“It is diabolically abominable that Johnny could be misled and misinformed and then shanghaied from Perth’s Immigration Departmental offices and to Yongah and onward to Nairobi.
“Everyone involved and in the know should be immediately stood down.”
Mr Georgatos said he had secured legal assistance for the Mwangis and, while he was hopeful of a positive outcome for them, he was outraged the situation had come to this.
“How is it possible that a young person, who has lived the last 10 years – one third of his life – in Australia, and has lived as an exemplary parent can be ripped from his family?” he said.
“I will go as far as to state my view that this is a racist decision and the colour of his skin counted against him.
“This family is devastated and my colleagues are doing what they can in trauma recovery for them as they pick up the pieces.
“We will fight to bring Johnny home to his family.”
Semisha said she would never stop fighting to bring her husband home.
“I have no reason to give up,” she said. “I can only keep going.”
“No matter how long it takes, I want my husband back.
“We will find a way.”
The Department of Home Affairs would not comment on an individual case.
Kate is the deputy editor of WAtoday.