THE Uitenhage couple who disappeared without a trace more than a month ago were told to “leave and not come back” and so they did – leaving family and friends fearing for their safety.
Garreth and Jo-Ann Muller, both aged 22, went missing on Good Friday and were found nearly five weeks later in Grahamstown, where Garreth was arrested on Thursday last week for fraud, related to a car he sold. He appeared in the Uitenhage Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
He was released and returned to Grahamstown, where both he and Jo-Ann work at the Spur restaurant.
Speaking to The Herald from Grahamstown yesterday, the couple – unemployed at the time they disappeared – said they had left Uitenhage so they could avoid being evicted. Jo-Ann said they had owed their landlord rent and were told to “come up with it, or not bother coming back”.
“We honestly didn’t mean to create such a big thing with leaving. I think it was that they didn’t expect us to do it. They said, ‘You should just leave and not come back’, and then everyone panicked when we did,” she said.
Garreth’s mother, Nadine Muller, said the couple had approached her ex-husband, Marius, for help with the rent. Both had lost their jobs last year. When Marius declined, they took to the road to start a new life in Grahamstown.
“Once in a while, afterwards, we’d see the headlines about us, but we didn’t want to respond to or be associated with those people anymore,” Jo-Ann said.
Garreth said: “My dad was always very controlling. We just had to get away from that. Look, the way I went about it was wrong.”
But Marius refuted his son’s claims. “Why would he regularly be here, visiting me, borrowing money, asking for advice? He would tell me he missed me, that he enjoyed coming to visit. To say something like this doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Garreth is due back in court on June 18.