Submitted by: Vernon Malyon

It was our last day in Bali, and we were flying back to South Africa that evening.  My wife checked our travel documents and passports for the umpteenth time, and to our horror, my passport was gone.

I cannot describe the feeling of despair that came over both of us.  We dashed off to the local police station and then to the airport only to be told that there was nothing anyone could do for us.  My wife flew home alone.  The next day I flew to Jakarta to go and speak to the staff at the SA Embassy.  I was directed to a window counter on the seventh floor of this huge building.  Pictures of our president were proudly displayed on the walls.   At the window I was greeted and introduced to Ms Baleseng Bali Makgoba, who is the Corporate Services Manager (Yes! Her middle name is Bali!).   I greeted her in isiZulu and explained my dire situation.

She listened very attentively and replied in isiZulu.

 She explained I would have to wait at least three days for my fingerprints to be sent back home to verify my identity.   I was busy pleading with her to help me when a gentleman came out of his office and introduced himself to me.  He was the South African Ambassador, Dr Hilton Fisher.   He spoke to me in Afrikaans and once again I relayed my story, this time in Afrikaans.

All this time, Ms Makgoba was behind the counter, filling out forms and pushing them towards me to complete.  She then looked up and spoke to both myself and the ambassador, saying she will fast track my application as there was no doubt that I am South African, and I would be able to fly home that very night!

A few minutes later, I had my emergency passport, but it didn’t end there.  After a few hugs and photos, the ambassador himself gave me a lift to the train station in his official vehicle and still took the time to ensure that I caught the right train!  Early the next morning I was back in Johannesburg.

I am one very proud and grateful South African.