ALL charges against Emlyn Culverwell and his pregnant fiancée, Iryna Nohai, have been dropped after the couple posted bail on Wednesday afternoon at the Yas court in Abu Dhabi.
Culverwell and Nohai were arrested January 29 after Nohai was taken to the hospital with stomach cramps.
Talk of the Town broke the story two weeks ago when a local woman came forward and shared her ordeal, and her worst nightmare.
I screamed his name; I was busy with a blood pressure test when I took the call. I thought he was phoning from prison. He told me to calm down and that they were out on bail. Then today [Friday] they phoned to say all charges were dropped. I didn’t know if I wanted to scream or cry
The couple have spent five years working at Yas Waterworld and lived in Abu Dhabi before their arrest. A doctor at the Medeor Medical Centre in Yas Mall confirmed that Nohai, a Ukrainian national, was pregnant and the couple were arrested at the hospital.
The story has received attention from local and international media, with people all over the world rallying behind the couple. Ultimately, Yas Waterworld’s holding company, Miral and Farah Enterprises, paid for a lawyer and bail which saw the couple released.
A motion was presented to parliament this week by former Port Alfred resident, now Democratic Alliance MP and deputy shadow environmental minister, Terri Stander, condemning the couple’s incarceration.
Culverwell’s mother, Linda Culverwell, said: “I screamed his name; I was busy with a blood pressure test when I took the call. I thought he was phoning from prison. He told me to calm down and that they were out on bail. Then today [Friday] they phoned to say all charges were dropped. I didn’t know if I wanted to scream or cry.”
Since the arrest, Linda and Culverwell’s father Karl Culverwell have exhausted all avenues to get their son and the 11 week pregnant Nohai released.
The couple are reported to be healthy, shaken up, but relieved to have the ordeal over. Linda reported that she saw a sonogram of her grandchild and is overwhelmed with relief and joy.
“Karl and I are extremely grateful to all within the company who helped in their release, and in offering the couple their jobs back. We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received,” Linda said.
“The publicity has helped so much, and if the holding company, as well as Yas Waterworld did not do all they could, I shudder to think what would have happened,” Linda said.
The charges against Emlyn and Nohai were for breaking the law under UAE penal code. Under Sharia Law a person found guilty can face between three months and five years’
imprisonment, as reported in past cases. Usually this is followed by immediate deportation. In some cases mothers who give birth while incarcerated were deported without their babies.
Linda said: “Emlyn was excited and relieved to see Iryna. He said, ‘mom, I can’t explain to you how I feel. I can’t even call it floating.’ He said he is happier that she is out and if he had to stay, he would but the safety of Iryna and the baby were all that mattered.”
“I’m dreaming about my grand-baby. I have to resist calling them every two minutes,” she said.
One day we will be able to tell our grandchild what happened to mom and dad. I am so grateful for how the story spiralled and how it worked out; now we can be grandparents.
“One day we will be able to tell our grandchild what happened to mom and dad. I am so grateful for how the story spiralled and how it worked out; now we can be grandparents. Their work [Emlyn and Nohai], did so much, I can’t thank them enough,” Linda added.
Karl’s father said he could finally breathe. “I hope we can help others through our story. It is quite exceptional for their charges to be dropped. It is unbelievable the difference a good employer can make. The media did an unbelievable job and played big role,” he said.
In an unbelievable twist of events, a Durban woman, Mandy Holmes heard of the Culverwell story and reached out to Linda. Holmes and her family went through a similar situation when their daughter was arrested on January 4. Linda was shocked to learn that Jody Holmes was locked up with Nohai and was able to send messages from Al Wathba Prison.
“Emlyn probably didn’t know he had phone privileges. Sometimes the money doesn’t make it to them. That’s why he probably never called his mom or Iryna. I had to reach out to Linda and let her know she wasn’t alone,” said Holmes.
Holmes said her world was shattered when she learned her daughter has been arrested. She had a suspected miscarriage after being involved with an UAE national and was also arrested in hospital.
“I died; I can’t describe it any other way. I couldn’t speak.” she said
I died; I can’t describe it any other way. I couldn’t speak
For Holmes the most disappointing part of her ordeal was how lax the South African Embassy has been in her case, and with Linda.
“They don’t make an effort, they don’t inform the families what is going on, all they [South African embassy] say is “stay calm and be patient”.
Holmes was also able to reassure Linda that foreigners are usually treated well, but that a sentencing was inevitable. Holmes communicates with at least five other families in South Africa who are in similar crisis with their children, locked up for Zina crimes.
Iryna and Emlyn are currently resting and staying in a four star hotel, everything paid for by their employers.