The sister of a Malaysian woman allegedly held as a slave in south London has been reunited with her long lost relative, explaining tonight that: “The blood bonds us thickly. Forty years doesn’t make much change as far as that is concerned.”
Kamar Mahtum, 73, had not seen her sister, Aishah Wahab, one of three alleged brainwashing victims, since 1968 but flew in earlier this week after hearing that she had been released from what has been described as a Maoist sect.
She said: “I cried, first out of relief, but then out of anger and then out of frustration. She asked me, ‘how is mum?’ and I said, ‘mum is gone’. She did not show any emotion at that point. She had tears in her eyes, but I think they were out of respect for me. But I had the sob of my life. The last time I sobbed like that was when I lost my mother in 1994. We could not contact Aishah to let her know because we did not know where she was.”
Ms Wahab left the property in Brixton alongside two other women, thought to be 57-year-old Josephine Herivel and a 30-year-old known as either Rose or Prem Davies, last month. Police said they were thought to have been held captive with what they called “invisible handcuffs”. They have warned an investigation and any legal proceedings could run for a year as they try to piece together what happened.
Ms Mahtum was speaking to The Daily Telegraph after an emotional meet-up at an undisclosed location in the North of England on Friday.
Her sister, four years her junior, was almost unrecognisable from when she last saw her in the 1960s when she was a driven student enthused by politics, Ms Mahtum said, adding that she shied away from talking about what had happened over the 30 years in which she had been missing.
“When I asked her about what had gone on she just clammed up,” Ms Mahtum told the newspaper. “The only thing she wanted me to perceive is that she is happy. Each time she said something that made me smile she would say, ‘oh I love your smile. Don’t frown, laugh, smile’.”
Ms Wahab’s alleged captors, Aravindan Balakrishnan and his wife Chanda Pattni, were also not discussed during the reunion, she said.
Ms Mahtum added: “She promised that after the investigation was over she would come home. As the rest of her family I want her to come home very, very badly. I want her to know my children. I want my children to know her. Because part of her is me and part of her is in my children and I want them to recognise the similarity and the identity across the generations. I still feel emotional about it. It was a very emotional day, very revealing, but then I was contented that I got what I wanted and I can bring home the beautiful memories. The blood bonds us thickly. Forty years doesn’t make much change as far as that is concerned.”
Mr Balakrishnan and Ms Pattni are due back before police in January.