Frustration over lack of help after passports stolen

2015-07-30 21:14

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Johannesburg – Two people whose passports were stolen from a courier company van said on Thursday they have had little help from the British High Commission.

"It’s a total disgrace. I still don’t know what’s happening," Phillip Anastassopoulos said.

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He said he was called on Monday and told that his family's passports had been stolen. These included that of his wife and children.

Anastassopoulos said he was promised that an email would be sent to him, stating that his passport had been stolen. He could then use this to present to police. It had still not arrived.

They had planned to leave for the UK next Friday.

"I phoned them four times, they have no idea," he said of efforts to get information from the commission.

Along with the passports, documents like bank statements and his children's unabridged birth certificates were also stolen.

He said the commission had not been able to tell him how long it would take to get replacement visas.

"We don’t know. Are we going to make the trip [or] are we not going to make the trip?"

Bronwen Gomes said she and six members of her extended family were promised letters from the high commission by noon on Wednesday, but had received nothing by late Thursday afternoon.

"I am absolutely disgusted that the processing company was not transporting our passports in a more secure means. Support from the centre has been atrocious."

She said the costs of reapplying for the documents would run into hundreds of rands, added to which would be the cost of travelling to Johannesburg to go to home affairs.

The passports were stolen when the courier company’s van was hijacked on Fleming Road in Meadowdale, Ekurhuleni, on Monday. They were being taken to a visa processing centre in Johannesburg.

Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said one of the three hijackers was wearing a metro police uniform. The driver was left in Midrand, and his van, minus the cargo, was later recovered in Kempton Park.

British High Commission spokesperson Isabel Potgieter said she would look into the matter. She said a company called Teleperformance managed the commission's visa application centres. This meant the support and e-mails should have come from them.

She did not know the number of passports that were stolen.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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