Durban - A Durban woman who fled to Dubai with her husband two years ago returned to South Africa and walked straight into the arms of the law.
She was arrested when her plane landed at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg last week.
Krishnavelli Nadine Mariemuthu, of Phoenix, Durban, and her husband Walter Elazer Mariemuthu allegedly scammed two people of R700 000 and promised them homes which they did not get.
Her arrest by airport police and immigration officials at OR Tambo caught her completely by surprise. It scuttled her plans to be reunited with her family in Durban for the first time since 2010.
Her husband is still in Dubai and faces arrest too if he returns to South Africa.
After the couple fled the country, the South African Police Service and immigration officials “red flagged” them as fugitives of justice.
After he was told on the telephone by family members that his wife was behind bars, Walter Mariemuthu apparently informed them he would not be returning to South Africa.
A police source said it appeared that Walter allowed his wife to return to Durban “to test the waters” back home and had left her to face the music on her own. The couple do not have any children.
Krishnavelli Mariemuthu’s arrest and appearances in the Durban Commercial Crime Court on a fraud allegation last Wednesday and on Friday came about after local detectives sought the assistance of their counterparts at Interpol.
South Africa does not have an extradition agreement with Dubai.
After Interpol informed local police last Sunday that Mariemuthu was on the Dubai to Johannesburg flight, police at OR Tambo Airport and immigration officials waited for her to disembark from the plane before swooping on her last Monday.
She was detained in the holding cells at the Kempton Park Police Station in Johannesburg.
Last Tuesday detectives from Crime Intelligence in Durban flew to Johannesburg and brought Mariemuthu to Durban.
After being questioned, Mariemuthu was subsequently detained at the Bellair Police Station’s holding cells.
On Friday Mariemuthu looked distraught when she was brought to court by a policeman.
She was dressed in a striped top, pants and a white jacket. Oblivious that this newspaper had photographed Mariemuthu earlier, her relatives, who occupied the two benches in the gallery, gave her a jersey to cover her face before she entered the court room.
The accused sobbed in the dock after State advocate Renai Ramouthar said she and her husband had fled to Dubai to evade prosecution.
Her family heaved a sigh of relief when Acting Magistrate Melvin Govender dismissed the State’s application for Mariemuthu to be detained for a further seven days.
But their hopes of taking Mariemuthu home were dashed after the court said it could proceed with the bail application only today (Wednesday). Mariemuthu, represented by attorney Reg Thomas, was detained at Westville Prison.
The State claimed Mariemuthu, a business administration graduate, has no fixed abode and family members in Durban.
Attorney Thomas denied the allegations. He said several family members were in court. Thomas said Mariemuthu had no intention of returning to Dubai even though her contract at the University of Lorenz ends in December.
The court heard the accused had a degree in business administration but it was unclear from the submissions made by Thomas what her occupation was in Dubai.
Ramouthar said the State’s preliminary investigations showed Mariemuthu worked for an online university.
The State said it needed time to confirm if that was indeed the case.