South African family said to suffer Phuket holiday nightmare

PHUKET: A South African family’s holiday in Phuket turned into a nightmare on their last day here when the father was arrested and detained for almost a month for allegedly being in possession of fake U.S. dollars.

According to News 24, Gabriel Sequeira, 43, from Johannesburg, was released only after his family paid out several large amounts of money, totaling about US$15,500 (approx 480,000 baht) to local police and lawyers.

Sequeira arrived at Johannesburg airport on Thursday where he was met by his wife and two of his three children.

His ordeal started on the last day of their 10-day family holiday in Phuket when Sequeira changed $1,000 at a bank near his hotel. He was arrested by police who said the dollars were counterfeit.

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Sequeira, however, said he had bought the dollars from a travel agent in Johannesburg and had been exchanging them throughout his holiday with no problems.

His wife remained in Thailand while his children flew back to SA. His brother and a friend flew to Thailand to help free him.

His passport was confiscated and police continuously demanded money for his release, he said.

Despite a letter from the travel agent insisting the money was genuine, the authorities refused to release him.

Finally, after a month and about US$15,500, the family’s money ran out and Sequeira’s passport was returned, allowing him to travel back to South Africa.

Phuket News
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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