SA drug mule says friend betrayed her
Grahamstown - After at least a month and half of having no contact with her family, South African drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda has written to her parents from prison in Bangkok, Thailand.
In letters, shown to Sapa, Nobanda has written to her family revealing critical information of how she landed up in Thailand.
Nobanda was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on December 12 after getting off a Qatar Airways flight. Police said they noticed a white substance in her hair.
They found 1.5kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of $150 000 (R1.2m) in her dreadlocks.
She admitted to authorities she smuggled the drugs and said she was hired to deliver the cocaine to a customer at a hotel in Bangkok.
Since then she has been detained in prison waiting for her formal court appearance on March 19.
In a letter received by her family this week, Nobanda wrote that she was in good spirits and upbeat about the coming trial since she would only be charged for attempting to smuggle 600g of cocaine rather than the initial 1.5kg as earlier reported.
Bangkok authorities are only considering the cocaine, not the baking powder it was mixed with, which made the total weight 1.5kg.
This could considerably reduce her sentence.
Nobanda also wrote that at the time of her arrest she was with her friend Sulezi Rwanqa. She wrote that Rwanqa betrayed her and successfully made a safe return to South Africa.
When asked where Rwanqa was locals in Grahamstown said they had spotted her partying in different taverns in the township.
One of the locals, who did not want to be named, said he had spotted her last week.
"I saw Sulezi last week in Makhaya's tavern. Since her return she has had her hair cut off, but that day everyone was gossiping about her return from Bangkok," he said.
Used as a decoy
In her latest letter this week, Nobanda told her parents that she was appointed a Bangkok state lawyer.
The family said it would also be sending a legal adviser and a family member to comfort Nobanda during her court appearance in March.
"I can confirm to you that a family member will travel to attend the trial and we are communicating with the South African embassy that side," Nobanda's mother Honjiswa Mbewu said.
In the emotional letter Nobanda asked for her family for their understanding and forgiveness.
"First and probably the most important thing I want to say is I'm sorry to all of you. I know that I have disappointed, hurt and humiliated the whole family. I ask for forgiveness," Nobanda wrote.
In her letter, Nobanda also indicated that she was coping in prison and praying hard for a safe return home.
"I try to stay strong and ask of God to strengthen me every day. The bottom line is, in life one has to pay for the mistakes they make and I have come to accept my punishment.
"My only regret now is that you also have to suffer because of my mistakes," she wrote.
Nobanda also admitted in one of her letters that she was used as decoy, because she had refused to collaborate with a drug syndicate in Brazil.
In fear of what might happen to her and her family, she decided to board a plane to Bangkok, where she was caught.
She wrote that things got bad when she was welcomed by a man in Brazil and not her friend Rwanqa, who had travelled to Brazil two days earlier to prepare for work.