Thai arrest: Mother hopes to see drug mule suspect in jail

2011-12-15 00:00

FAMILY and friends of alleged drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda (23), who was arrested in Thailand, had set up a bank account to raise R25 000 for her mother, Honjiswa Mbewu, to visit her at Christmas, said Johan Conradie, a family friend who is in charge of the account.

Conradie said R3 000 had been donated into the account.

“The trip will help Mbewu emotionally.

“There’s a promise of R1 500 and we hope to have the full R25 000 on time so that she can travel and be with her daughter at Christmas,” said Conradie.

Nobanda worked on contract as an assistant interpreter in the Grahamstown Magistrate’s Court about two years ago.

She was arrested by Thai officials on Monday allegedly for trying to smuggle 1,5 kg of cocaine into the country.

The stash is worth R1,2 million and had she been successful she would have received a R16 000 cut for her trouble.

A court official who did not want to be named confirmed that Nobanda had worked at the court and was a humble person.

Mbewu who works as clerk of the court told The Witness yesterday that she wished for her daughter to be transferred to a South African prison.

“I don’t condone what my daughter has done, but she is still my child and we have been supportive of her throughout her life. I can’t tell you what got into her; even neighbours and friends are still in disbelief.

“Worst of all, I hear that prisoners are not fed in those prisons and even myself I find it difficult to eat since the news broke.”

Mbewu said that in 2007 her daughter enrolled for a bachelor of arts degree at Wits University, but she couldn’t afford to send her back the following year.

“She started at Unisa this year. All the family — her father, aunt and uncles — have been supportive of her and after she left Wits she registered a catering company. This is a huge blow because she’s young and we expected a lot from her.

“Although the arrest is painful, I believe it was God’s plan because we were not aware that she had a passport. We don’t know if whoever arranged it and the drugs would have arranged for her to come back home or to disappear. At least now we know she is alive, but all I ask is for the government to talk to the Thai officials for her to be brought back to a South African prison,” said Mbewu.

Wits head of communications and marketing Shirona Patel confirmed that Nobanda was registered with the university in 2007 and did not return the following year.

Nobanda’s father, Patrick Ncepu, said his daughter left home on November 24, saying she was visiting friends in Port Elizabeth.

“She resided with her grandmother just two kilometres away from us. I just didn’t know what to do when I learnt about her arrest on the news.

“South Africa’s ambassador to Thailand, Douglas Gibson, has informed me via e-mail that he will be seeing her today and she will get all the support she needs,” said Ncepu.

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