SA family desperate as search for dad missing in Thailand goes nowhere
An anxious family is running out of money after spending the past 14 days frantically searching for a father who is missing in Thailand.
John Gregory Phillips, 45, went missing while on holiday with his wife and son on New Year's Day.
His cousin, Anita Caral Diergaardt, told TimesLIVE family members had gone to the South African embassy in Thailand after he disappeared, but were initially told they could not be helped.
"His brother-in-law from Northern Ireland then contacted South Africa, who said they should be helped and contacted the SA embassy in Thailand. They then received minimal assistance," said Diergaardt.
Diergaardt said the family was still searching for the engineer, who hails from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.
"We believe he might have had a seizure and is confused. The last lead was on January 6 from CCTV footage. No other leads yet," she said.
"The family is searching on their own. Finances are running out and the language barrier is a big obstacle."
Diergaardt said the family went back to the embassy on Monday and were promised help from the police in Thailand.
Phillips went missing in Ratchathewi, Bangkok. His brother-in-law, Brendan Doyle, posted a message on Facebook explaining that he "suffers from siezures and while on holiday with his wife and son, he went for a walk alone, probably had a siezure and has not returned".
"The Thailand police have various sightings of him on CCTV and at one stage found him wanting to jump off a bridge, but when they approached he ran away. He is in a confused state of mind and totally disorientated," he wrote.
The department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) said there was nothing more it could do after the family had reported Phillips missing to the Thai police.
Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said if all of his family members had been in South Africa, Dirco officials in Thailand would have filed a missing person report with the Thai authorities.
"After the case has been reported to the police, there is nothing the embassy can do. That work of finding missing persons is done by law enforcement agencies," said Monyela.
Moneya likened the situation to a US citizen going missing while in holiday in South Africa.
"To expect the US embassy to look for the missing person is not a reasonable expectation from that family. A case must be opened with the police."