THE baffling disappearance of a young Uitenhage couple six days ago has sparked frantic efforts, including police investigations, to find them. Traumatised family and friends fear the worst after Garreth and Jo-Ann Muller, who have been married for nearly three years and who both lost their jobs late last year, were last seen on Good Friday.
They did not take any clothes or personal belongings with them, prompting fears that they were the victims of foul play.
Family members have been trying to contact the couple, both 22, since Saturday, but their cellphones have been turned off.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Gerda Swart said officers were following up every possible lead and had not ruled out the possibility of a hijacking at this stage.
“We are investigating this from all angles,” Swart said.
At the time of their disappearance, the couple were driving a charcoal or dark grey Volkswagen CitiGolf Sonic 1.6, registration number BVX 478 EC.
Garreth, who is about 1.78m tall and has dark hair, was wearing a mustardcoloured T-shirt and dark denim pants with white takkies.
It is not known what Jo-Anne was wearing.
Garreth and Jo-Ann both lost their jobs late last year.
Jo-Ann worked at UTI Material Handling in Struandale and Garreth at Clover, both in Port Elizabeth.
The childhood sweethearts shared a house in Strelitzia Park with Garreth’s sister, Colleen, and his mother, Nadine.
Family members said they had left the house together shortly after 6am on Friday.
Garreth’s father, Marius, said his son had arrived at his house a short while later, at about 7am.
Jo-Anne did not come into the house with him but might have been waiting in the car for him, as she had done on numerous other short visits, according to Marius.
Garreth made himself some bacon, eggs and coffee, and left at about 9am. He told his father he wanted to go to look at a flatlet in Strelitzia Park in Uitenhage that the couple were interested in renting.
Marius recalled asking Garreth how they would pay rent when they were both unemployed.
“My son was his normal self. I did not pick up any strange behaviour and he did not mention that he was having any problems.
“He left just before 9am. I don’t know whether he went to look at the flatlet or not.
“That was the last time I saw or heard from him. When he left, he was happy,” his father said.
On Saturday morning, Colleen sent Marius a text message to find out where the couple had spent Friday night.
“At first, I did not think it strange because Garreth is a married man. I just figured they might have slept over at a friend’s place. It was also a long weekend.
“I became concerned when I tried to reach them on Saturday afternoon and both their phones were turned off.
“The worry intensified when none of us could reach them by Sunday.”
The Muller family got together to discuss the mystery on Monday.
They all agreed the couple would not just disappear without saying anything and decided to report them missing on Tuesday. Jo-Ann’s mother, Julie Harrington, said it was difficult to know what to think.
“They are just gone and we cannot get hold of them. We are all worried sick – this is not like them,” she said.
“We are hoping and praying for their safe return.
“It has been days. We are hoping for a positive outcome, but at the moment it is difficult.”
Marius said: “I am unable to focus or think of anything else.”
- Anyone with information on the missing couple can contact Warrant Officer Wilfred Swartbooi on 083-533-3776.