Two fathers have launched a desperate bid to have South African authorities and Interpol help find their children, allegedly abducted by their mother from Perth and apparently taken to Durban.
Lloyd Myburg and Wesley Tissong, both formerly of Durban but now living in Australia, have launched an application in terms of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects on International Child Abduction to have their children Aaliyah Myburg, 7, and Dontae Tissong, 3, returned to them.
The men said the children’s mother, Earlett Selling, was born in South Africa but had lived in Australia since she was a child. She is estranged from both men.
The fathers said Australian police had told Selling’s parents she had boarded a South African Airways flight at Perth International Airport on March 31 and arrived in Durban, via OR Tambo Airport, on April 1.
The men believe Selling is being harboured by relatives in Durban, who are helping her financially.
The Australian government has requested Interpol to issue a “yellow notice” for the children – an international alert that asks for help locating missing minors, who are unable to identify themselves.
Myburg and Selling had never married but had daughter, Aaliyah, in 2004. The couple’s relationship ended after two years. Selling later began a relationship with Tissong and in 2008 son, Dontae, was born. They were married in the same year.
However, after four months of marriage, the couple split and Selling moved in with her parents in the southern Perth suburb of Secret Harbour.
While Myburg shared custody of his daughter with Selling before the alleged abduction, Tissong said he went through a protracted court battle to gain custody of his child.
On the day of the alleged abduction, the Perth Family Court gave him sole custody of Dontae.
Tissong believes that this was the reason Selling fled Australia.
“It breaks my heart. My boy was a part of my life for so long and now he is not here. I just want him home with me,” Tissong said from Perth.
After realising his daughter was gone, Myburg successfully applied for full custody. The Perth Family Court signed the order on April 8.
Both Myburg and Tissong have provided the Daily News with copies of the court orders.
“It came as a shock. Although I always feared she might do something like this, I never thought she would actually get away with it,” Myburg said.
He said he had last spoken to his daughter on March 31 and realised that she was missing when he could not reach her on the phone a few days later.
He said that according to the court order, Selling is not allowed to leave Western Australia without written permission from him.
“She has her maiden name on her passport and both the children have different surnames. In order to have left the country with the children, she would have to have had forged documents. This was definitely premeditated,” he said.
According to correspondence between Myburg and the Australian government, the Hague application to have his child sent back was sent to South African authorities in May. In June, the South African authorities acknowledged receipt of the application and said the Family Advocate’s office in Durban would locate the child.
In an e-mail to Myburg, Andrew Kristjanson, a legal officer with the Australian Central Authorities, said the Australian government had hired a private investigator, who had visited two addresses, one in Wentworth, south of Durban, and another in Newlands East.
“The occupants of both residences said they last saw Ms Selling at a family gathering in December 2010 and did not know her current whereabouts.
“We have searched the National Credit Bureau for possible banking or other commercial activity. None whatsoever has been picked up. The matter has also been referred to Interpol Pretoria for assistance. Thus far, no trace of the mother or children has been established,” Kristjanson said.
Myburg’s main concern was for his daughter’s safety: “I just want to know if she is okay. I have not heard from her in months and all I want is for somebody to tell me how she is doing.”
Tissong said: “Earlett needs to do the right thing and come back home with the children. That is all we want.”
Interpol spokeswoman in South Africa, Tumi Golding, said they were going through “diplomatic channels” and the matter was being dealt with by the Family Advocate’s office.
“They are liaising with the Australian authorities and we are waiting on them to finalise the paperwork before we take over,” she said. -Daily News