A Curious Case of Identity Theft?


You hear about identity theft occurring, but sometimes, we think that we are impervious to these strange events. From illegal immigrants pining for citizenship in your country, to drug lords trying to smuggle their goods across borders, to opportunistic goons wanting to commit financial fraud, and to the ever-growing presence of terrorist cells around the world; identity theft is conducive to all of the above. A passport like your identity book or social security number emphasises your unique existence. There’s only one of you in this world and that passport or ID number is inherent of that.

Last week, two work colleagues and I needed to courier our passports from our office in Durban to our office in Johannesburg in order to sort out our VISAs for entry into Mozambique for business. Call it an eery premonition if you will, but I, along with my manager, was super agitated and uneasy to part with my passport. However, we needed to send them off urgently.

The courier company that our company contracts on a nation-wide level, was voted as South Africa’s number one courier service. As a service provider, they earned our trust and considering that every other courier order went smoothly before this, I rest assured that my passport would reach it’s destination. On October 9, I was responsible for inserting the three, individual, A4-size white envelopes into the courier bag and sealing it. Each envelope contained the passports, photos and letter of invitation. On the front of each envelope, I wrote down our names, so one could distinguish between the envelopes. I handed the package to a work colleague to hand to the couriers. The courier company was late on that day. My work colleague handed it to our security guard to hand to them. This was a common practice. On October 10, the courier bag was delivered to our Johannesburg office with three blank envelopes. The envelopes were also empty. The package contained the same waybill though.

As you can see, after I departed with the bag, there were many players involved in the handling of the package. It was reported to the police and a criminal investigation has now been opened. I insisted that those blank envelopes be kept aside as evidence. Perhaps, they will be able to detect who handled those blank envelopes via the finger prints found. Thanks to the Crime and Investigation Network for making me alert and more aware to how valuable those blank, empty, white envelopes are.

All I want is my passport back. Who knew that a little book like that could be bestowed with such a great deal of sentimental value? Each stamp, each visa, each drop of ink symbolized one of the many adventures that I was fortunate enough to go on. I have been robbed of the luxury to reminisce. I have been robbed of my identity so to speak. I sincerely hope that the matter is resolved. And, to the buffoon who was brazen enough to commit such an atrocious act, I wish hell’s fury upon you equivalent to the fire of a thousand suns.

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