Durban - Seven years after a Hillary woman went missing in mysterious circumstances, her family has taken the extraordinary step of having her legally declared dead.

Faeika Esop Ali, who would have been 48 this year, went missing in February 2007 after going for a drive with her boyfriend.

According to a statement by police Captain Thulani Zwane, released in March, the boyfriend told police they were travelling in his car when they were attacked by three men.

The man said the assailants, who were in a white VW Polo near Parlock, assaulted him and left with Esop Ali.

Zwane said the family had offered a reward for information that could assist the police as they had information that Esop Ali had been killed.

In May, Esop Ali’s daughter, Fehmida Esop Ali, launched a court application to have her mother declared dead.

Last month, Durban High Court Judge Graham Lopes granted an interim order which presumes that Esop Ali died on February 9, 2007.

The order calls for interested parties to show cause by next month why it should not be made final.

It also states that the copy of the order should be sent to the office of the National Prosecuting Authority for their consideration.

In court papers, filed in support of the application, Fehmida said she had last seen her mother on the night of February 9, 2007.

“My brother and I have had no personal or telephonic contact with my mother since February 9.”

She tried to call Esop Ali at 8.30pm that night but the call went to voicemail.

Later that night she got an SMS from her mother’s cellphone telling her to stay in the house and “lock all the doors”.

The next day she got another SMS from the same cellphone number which had ordered her to pack her things and wait to be fetched.

She said Esop Ali had had a “difficult relationship” with her boyfriend because he was abusive and was still married when her mother disappeared.

She also said before her mother’s disappearance, she had had a fight with her boyfriend’s wife.

The wife came to the family’s Hillary home looking for her husband three days before her mother went missing, she said.

Fehmida said Esop Ali had not contacted any other relative since the day she vanished and the family had learnt from a private investigator that her Samsung cellphone had been activated with three other cellphone numbers used since her disappearance.

She added that the family had been told that an officer in the Organised Crime Unit had been contacted in 2010 by a potential witness who claimed to have information about her mother’s murder.

Police did not respond to questions about the status of the investigation.

The Mercury