An asylum seeker from Zimbabwe who is to be deported on Sunday has issued a desperate plea to stay in Leicester, saying he is certain to be killed if he is sent home.

Charles Ndelemani fled his homeland to live in Leicester in 2003 after being attacked for his political views and for refusing to train child militia.

The 42-year-old, who lives in Albion Street, in the city centre, says he is still a wanted man in Zimbabwe and fears he will be arrested and killed when he lands at the country’s Harare airport.

Friends have mounted a petition which they were to submit to the UK Border Agency today in the hope of delaying his departure while the decision to deport him is reviewed.

Speaking to the Leicester Mercury yesterday from a detention centre in Cambridge, Mr Ndelemani said: “I am very worried about leaving the UK.

“I will be violently attacked and they will want me dead. If I go back that is what will happen.”

He is still a member of the Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC), which opposes president Robert Mugabe’s government in Zimbabwe, and is currently treasurer of MDC Leicester.

Mr Ndelemani is being deported to Malawi, via Zimbabwe, because he arrived on a Malawian passport – an option for Zimbabweans when the country was called Rhodesia.

But he renounced his Malawian nationality and reverted to being Zimbabwean in 2007 after Mugabe made it illegal to hold dual citizenship.

Supporters, who have so far collected more than 1,000 signatures, claim his application for asylum was rejected because the UK Border Agency believes he is still a Malawian national.

Mr Ndelemani is due to land in Zimbabwe before being transferred to Malawi. He said that if he made it to Malawi, he would be returned to Zimbabwe by border officials for not having a Malawian passport.

Patson Muzuwa, UK chairman of the Zimbabwe Association, said Mr Ndelemani had little hope of survival if he did not remain in the UK.

MDC member Mr Muzuwa, of Welford Road, Leicester, was himself tortured and arrested in his homeland for his political beliefs.

Makaza Chizinga, 35, from Leicester city centre, used to work for Air Zimbabwe as reservations co-ordinator at Harare airport. He said he knew from his experience that officials would be expecting his friend, Mr Ndelemani.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “Only those failed asylum seekers who do not need international protection are removed.”