STORY: "At that time I just felt as if my whole world had ended."
Stranded in Turkey, Siyabonga Twala reflects on being barred entry to Britain over two months ago.
On Saturday (March 11), he spent his 34th birthday away from his family in an unfamiliar city.
Twala holds South African citizenship, but has lived in the UK since 2004 and is a father to a British son.
On Dec. 29, he was flying back to Britain after a trip to South Africa with his parents, son and two siblings.
But Twala was stopped from boarding the plane in Istanbul.
"They just pulled me to one side and said we've been informed we can't board you today and they gave me a letter with an email and a phone number on it. That was all they could tell me at that time."
He had not seen the deportation order, but says it was related to a conviction for possession of cannabis, with an intent to supply.
In 2018 he was sentenced to nine-months in prison, for which he served four-and-a-half months.
“I just felt as if I had just committed maybe another crime or something, like I am being sort of sentenced to another prison sentence on top of what I have already served."
Twala, who has a residence permit in the UK, appealed a document that said he was liable for deportation.
His appeal was unsuccessful, but he continues to fight the deportation decision through the Home Office.
(Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister)
"If they come here illegally, it will result in their detention and swift removal."
This comes at a time when the British government's immigration policy faces global scrutiny after new plans to bar the entry of asylum seekers who arrive in the country on small boats across the English Channel.
Lawyers and charities said the plans would breach the United Nations convention on refugees.
Twala's representative was told by the Home Office that he had left the country voluntarily.
The UK Home Office has not responded to a request for comment Reuters made on Saturday.
Twala even tried to go to the British Embassy in Ankara, but was turned away.
"I turned up to the (British) Embassy and obviously before I could even see anyone, the security at the gate just said to me 'We are not gonna let you in because your appointment is invalid and you are not a British citizen'. But I tried to obviously tell them that 'Look, I've got a visa essentially and that visa is a UK visa, it is an ongoing visa'."
He remains in an unfamiliar country, away from his family.
He says the UK is his home, and will have "nowhere to go" if he's not allowed to return.