A young boy whose mother converted to a black Hebrew sect has made a passionate plea for her to become his loving mum again.
The 11-year-old, called "Tyrone" to protect his identity, told The Voice: "I want my real mother back. I miss the way she was before. I am sad that she does not want to spend to time with me."
Hi mother, "Mary," was recruited by the Black Hebrew Israelites three years ago. The 3,000-member cult has settlements in Israeli cities Dimona, Arad and Mitzpe Ramon. They have a nationwide recruitment network her and a large organizational base in America.
The group grew in popularity earlier this year when they were paid a weeklong visit by troubled couple Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.
After his mum joined the group Tyrone no longer felt comfortable in her presence and he worried that he had lost her love forever.
Mary started attending group meetings at Brixton Recreation Center in south London. After a year her partner Gavin noticed changes in her personality and they separated soon after. He said: "She told me our lives were going in different directions and the group was her family now. I had to move out of the house and was only able to see my son on weekends."
After the couple split Mary, a model parent, would leave Tyrone at a friend's house while she attended group meetings. Sometimes she would take him along against his wishes and those of his father, and even allowed the group to give him a Hebrew name.
When Tyrone fell ill she treated him with herbal medicine. The cult claims to have a strict "divine" diet, which prevents diseases like diabetes and cancer. She only allowed conventional treatment after pressure from her ex-partner.
The cultists also practice polygamy and claim black people are God's chosen ones, but believe slavery was God's punishment for their disobedience.
Before his mother left on a visit to the "Promised Land" and after family intervention failed to patch up the couple, Tyrone told her he wanted to live with his father permanently.
Gavin said: "The Mary I knew was a sensual and considerate woman, but she has become cold and militant. She used to be a devoted mother, but now she puts the group first. She is a shadow of her former self. The last time I saw her, she was frail."
Cult interventionist Rick Ross, who traveled to London from America in a bid to reunite Mary with her family, told The Voice: "She is visibly emaciated because of the diet she is following. She was not allowed to talk to us without a group member present and even then she backed out."