Mungo the clown, of Cape Town, is behind bars in a Thai detention centre for what his family believes is an expired visa.
Relatives of Mark Shelton, who goes by the stage name Mungo, say Thai police arrested him two months ago and they have not spoken to him since.
They say their attempts to get assistance from the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) have proved fruitless.
Terence Grant, Shelton’s half-brother, suspects that the fact that Shelton did not have money for a ticket home could have played a role in his continued detention.
Lewis said he contacted Dirco’s Consular Support section on Friday to ask it to help get Shelton on a flight home.
“But no one paid any attention,” he said.
“They basically told me that Dirco had no obligation to help pay for Mark’s journey back to South Africa. I told them they would only be lending Mark the money, that he would pay it back. But they told me to go to the Department of Home Affairs if I wanted to apply for a loan,” said Lewis.
“A situation in which a citizen is held indefinitely over a shortage of funds is clearly untenable and wholly inconsistent with our constitution.
“I strongly feel that it is incumbent on our government to pay for his ticket and recoup the money later.”
Dirco did not respond to Cape Argus requests for comment.
Grant said Shelton had spent the latter part of 2011 teaching English in Bangkok, but lost his job earlier this year.