A “too fat” South African chef who was threatened with deportation from New Zealand was given a 23-month reprieve on Monday. Albert Buitenhuis, who now weighs 130 kilograms, was allowed to stay in the country for almost two years more, but there are conditions.
South African chef Albert Buitenhuis
Mr Buitenhuis and his wife, Marthie, moved to Christchurch from their native South Africa in 2007. And although he had weighed 160 kilograms then, his work visa was renewed annually without problems.
However in July 2013, his visa renewal application was rejected because of his weight did not fall under “an acceptable standard of health.” An Immigration New Zealand spokesman said that he was declined because his obesity put him at “significant risk” of complications.
According to Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye, the main reason why his application was rejected was due to the osteoarthritis in his knee. But after reviewing Mr Buitenhuis’ information, Ms Kaye had “made a decision giving Mr Buitenhuis a work visa for 23 months.”
There are two conditions, though. During his stay in the country, Mr Buitenhuis is not entitled to any publicly-funded health care. He will also have to meet his own health costs.
“Of course, we are pleased and relieved that we are now able to stay. It’s great,” he told Fairfax Media in an interview, describing the government’s decision to give him a reprieve a “bittersweet.”
“But at the same time we would rather rewind so that none of this took place. It has been a really hard time for both of us.”
The chef added that they spent thousands of dollars to fight their case, sacrificing their home in the process.
“I am glad the fight is over but I am still afraid of what lies ahead.”
He aims to lose another 25 kilograms in the near future, according to BBC.
In July, a study conducted by the United Nations, New Zealand placed third in the most obese among populous countries in the world. It was surpassed only by Mexico and the United States, which are at first and second place respectively.
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