SA’s dreadlock mule desperate to return from Bangkok ‘prison hellhole’

2014-07-02 19:57

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South African drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda, who is serving a 15-year-jail sentence in a foreign prison, is desperate to be extradited to her home country.

Nobanda made international headlines in 2011 when she was arrested with 1.5kg of cocaine in her dreadlocks at a Thai airport, smuggled from Brazil.

She was 23 years old at the time.

This afternoon, her uncle, Ntsikelelo Sandi, said his niece, now 25, was desperate and has asked her family to help get her out of that prison to serve her sentence here in South Africa.

“She has written a letter in which she talks of the inhumane conditions she and other inmates are subjected to in that prison. Her desperation also stems from the fact that recently drugs were found in her cell, which is putting in jeopardy her chances of an early release for good behaviour ...

“The prison conditions in Bangkok are bad. The ladies are not given toilet paper and sanitary towels. It is just wrong and inhumane. She says her fellow inmate, a South African from Pietersburg, died on her hands from illness recently,” said Sandi, who went to Thailand to see Nobanda in 2012 when she was sentenced.

“She wants to get out of there, and fast, so that she can focus on her studies. It is difficult for her to do so from a prison hellhole in a foreign country.”

The former student of Victoria Girls High in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, is studying towards a degree in communications through the University of South Africa.

Advocate Matthew Mpahlwa, who is representing Nobanda, said they would ask the South African government to intervene.

“We are busy drafting letters to the Presidency and the departments of international relations, health and social development for them to intervene. This is a human rights matter and we want our government to use the relevant channels to help – not only Nobanda but other South African prisoners abroad,” Mpahlwa said.

He said they would also approach the South African embassy in Thailand.

Honjiswa Mbewu, Nobanda’s mother, said she was planning to visit her daughter in December to give her moral support and encourage her with her studies.

She said the conditions were so dire in that prison that everything cost money, including water and food.

“I think she has survived this long because of her strong character and will. I know she is there because of her own mistakes but I just wish government and the authorities can at least ensure, not only her, but other inmates’ welfare in that cell. Alternatively, I wish that she can be sent back to serve her sentence here in South Africa,” she said.

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