Drug mule came into ‘a lot of money’ before Brazil trip

2011-12-16 07:35

Alleged drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda came into a lot of money shortly before her departure for Brazil, a friend of hers has said.

Four weeks before Nobanda’s departure for Brazil, she offered to take five friends to dinner at a restaurant called Fusions in Port Elizabeth, said her friend, Asanda Gqeke (23).

Before the dinner Nobanda showed Gqeke an SMS she had received on her cellphone indicating R20 000 had been deposited into her bank account.

“She smiled at me and said ‘friend business is good’. I never bothered to ask what it was for,” Gqeke said.

Nobanda was arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday 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 (R1.2 million) hidden in her dreadlocks.

She admitted to authorities that she smuggled the drugs and said she was hired to deliver the cocaine to a customer at a hotel in Bangkok.

Gqeke said the bill for that evening came to R400, and Nobanda insisted she wanted to pay it alone, refusing help from a male friend who was with them.

“She said she was prepared to dine us to an amount of R1 000, so R400 was too little for her,” said Gqeke.

Gqeke pleaded with South African authorities to help Nobanda.

She recounted how she saw Nobanda for the last time on the night of November 27, after dropping her off in Western Road, central Port Elizabeth, where she was due to meet a woman known only as Mavis.

Nobanda sent her an SMS at 9.36pm saying Mavis had arrived to fetch her.

“It was the last time I saw her, until she called me from Brazil saying she was safe. I asked if she called her mom. She said no, but promised to do so,” Gqeke said.

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