"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

a seven month long comedy of errors...

On the 17th of January this year Gareth had his white Citi Golf stolen from outside his home in Gardens.  He reported it to the police.  My involvement comes into it because the car is insured through my broker and on my householders policy for Albion Road from way back when Gareth used to live there.

It took a while to get a case number from the Cape Town police station, it was reported to the insurers and they sent me the necessary forms which were completed and returned.  About 3 weeks later, Gareth's girlfriend was forced to take a different route home as one of the roads was blocked with traffic.  Driving down this new road, she spied, 3 blocks from their home, Gareth's car.  All the windows were open and the car was about half a metre from the pavement (not too unlike how Gareth usually parks).  The police were called and a whole squad of them arrived to view the vehicle. Gareth presumed he would be given the car back immediately and could take it to be repaired.  Not so. It had to be taken to the pound in Stikland to be fingerprinted.   I informed the insurance company that the car had been found and that there would now probably only be a claim for locks.  Herein began the fun.

It took Gareth more than 3 months and 83 phone calls to find out what the procedure was to get the car back. The file had been lost and they were waiting for some forensic report.  Eventually he found a helpful lady sergeant who gave him a number and some details.  The insurance company had to approve the use of a tow truck to get the car to the garage where the locks and ignition had to replaced.  There was then a hold up with the insurance company while they got permission for the car to be towed.  A week or two later the insurance was sorted out and we were told that we could arrange for the car to be collected.  Gareth had to prepare a detailed affidavit to give the tow truck guy (Flippie) permission and consent to access the car.  For this we needed a copy of Flippies ID and all the details of his tow truck "company".  Flippie knew the procedure and provided us with all the details.  He then proceeded to Stikland one Friday to be turned away as they close early on Friday.  On the Monday he succeeded but only after a three hour wait for them to move all the other cars which were parked behind the now filthy and mouldy car. The windows were left open, dust and grime, bird poo and that grey powder which they use for finger prints covered the entire car. 

The car was delivered to the garage in a sad state.  The garage guy, who is now like a family friend, was happy to store the car until the assessor came to inspect.  It was now the end of April.  My insurance papers were now out of date. New forms were filled in and we waited for the assessor.   A new ignition was sourced and an immobiliser fitted.  New locks were fitted to the doors.  The insurance company agreed to the car having a full valet.  Things were starting to look good and it was mid-May.

Then we noticed that the licence on the car was about to expire.  A visit to the municipality to purchase a new licence led to us being advised that the car was still listed as "Stolen" and we could not renew the licence with getting police clearance.  Our friendly garage guy was happy to look after the car and started to look for a purchaser for this poor lonely car because Gareth had decided it was probably easier to buy a new car.

The next battle began.  The helpful lady sergeant at Stikland was on maternity leave.  We had the case number (and her number) and that was all.  Gareth started making more calls.  The file was now "lost" but we needed to get a PCF (police clearance form) from the municipality.  This we got.  It was now June.  The friendly garage guy had a purchaser for the car but Matthew was coming home for a month and would need a car so we told him to "hold fire" for a bit.  He is a very patient man and did not mind continuing to store this lonely, unregistered, "stolen" white car for us.

Two weeks ago I phoned the Bellville Police Station.  They gave me the number of the Stikland "pound".  It was no longer the helpful sergeant's division at Stikland (she was back from maternity leave and had had a baby girl) and she referred me to Bellville South.  She gave me a name and number.  Eventually when Bellville South Police station answered the phone they did not have anyone called Sgt. Meintjies on duty.  I was helped though and told to bring the PCF form, my identity document, a copy of the owners ID and the original registration forms to Osborne Street, Bellville South.  I had them all and was on a mission to get this sorted out.

However, last week was a busy week. This was now top of my list for "this week" and yesterday morning and I decided to head through to Bellville South.  Matthew offered to come with me on this little adventure.  "It won't take long.  I have everything they have asked for" (famous last words).  We dropped my car at the friendly garage guy and collected the lonely white golf.  It looked so new and shiny and was so happy to be taken out, I almost expected it to hoot like Herbie used to do.  

We found the Bellville South Police station (thanks to Google maps and Matthew).  What a sad looking place to work (or visit).   It is a bit like a neglected farm.  We found the right outbuilding and stood in the queue.  We were then told to move the car to under the carport.  Matt moved the car and the policeman looked at my papers, disapprovingly.  "These are not correk!!  You need to take the PCF form to the licencing office at the municipality and they must issue you with a stamped printout!! AND THEN...you must have your car micro dotted".   He pointed to some guys sitting on the corner over the road from the police station.  I had visions of heading back to Plumstead municipality but Matthew investigated finding the Bellville office.  With the help from his iPhone we found the offices and were told at the door to queue at Teller 8.  Not a long queue and the very, very large and miserable lady behind the counter looked at me, again disapprovingly, and sent to me the "Enquiries Queue".  This was at the entrance and it stretched outside the door.

A bit of luck , after a 15 minute wait, the very helpful chap gave me a print out and stamped the forms without insisting that I pay for a temporary licence.  We were breaking the law by driving an unlicensed "stolen" vehicle.  No charge involved either.  Bonus. Back to Bellville South to find out about the micro dotting.

This is when I became a bit nervous and suspicious.  The two, pretty undesirable fellows lying on the grass jumped up to help us.  We were told it would cost R500 and one of them would take us to where the job would be done and asked us to open the back door so that he could get in and drive with us.  I felt braver because Matthew was driving and we let him in.  The toothless tattooed chap was very excitable and friendly and gave us quite a long explanation, between directions, of what needed to be done to the car.  We took back roads and sharp turns through a very dodgy area.  We arrived at a vibracrete wall with a driveway and a steel gate. He jumped out of the car and disappeared. There was an office (selling second hand car parts and motor oil) and a few calls were made.  The owner of this lucrative business arrived and explained how with this spray gun he would spray over 8 000 dots on the car to identify it. Everything looked suspicious except for the very fancy original certificate which I was presented with after handing over R500 (in cash).  The entire job took about 15 minutes and we headed back to the police station (not sure where our tattooed friend disappeared to).  If you are interested, read more about microdotting here.  Do you think that the cost of microdotting can be claimed from insurance?

We parked the car under the carport (we now knew the routine) and the same policeman arrived, examined the certificate and the official looking form from the municipality and gave me an approving look. I gave him a sarcastic smile.  He double checked the VIN number on the engine and sent me inside with the form and all the ticks in the right places.   A very disinterested lady police officer (on the phone and chewing gum) fiddled with her mouse for about five minutes and pressed a key or two on her keyboard.  She then took out a stamp and stamped the form in a couple of places and told me everything was OK.  I asked her whether it was all fine now to get the car licenced and checked with her that it was not still marked as "Stolen".  She told me it "should be OK" but we may have to re-licence the car as sometimes they need to re-enter all the details.  This could mean re-registering the car and buying new number plates.

Quite a story hey?

Gareth's abridged version:-

My car got stolen.  I reported it to the police.  Three weeks later I found my own car.  The police took it away for 3 months. The licence expired.  I can't licence it because it is still "Stolen" on the computer.  My mother is helping me today and has to take the "stolen" car to Bellville South.  It would be a terrible irony should my mother get arrested or, even worse, shot for driving a stolen vehicle. 

Sometimes it is probably not a bad thing that our policing is up to maggots.

The five hours spent yesterday, I suppose is pretty small compared to more than seven months it has taken us to try to sort it out.  Now we still have to see what the licencing department have to say.

Anyone want to buy a sweet little golf?

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