What about Babsie’s friend?

2011-12-17 16:45

Two Eastern Cape families are pointing fingers at each other over who is to blame for the mess their daughters are in.

While Nolubabalo “Babsie” Nobanda (23) is awaiting her fate in a Thai prison after being arrested on Monday at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport for smuggling 1.5kg of cocaine – with a street value of R1.2 million – in her dreadlocks, her friend Sulezi Rwanqa is stranded in Thailand and desperate to get out.

Nobanda arrived in Bangkok on a Qatar Airways flight from Brazil.

The two women are both from Grahamstown. Their families maintain they have only known each other for a few months.

Although they were travelling together, Rwanqa (25) was not arrested. It is unclear if she was also trafficking drugs to Thailand.

Rwanqa and Nobanda were last seen together leaving for Port Elizabeth.

On Friday it emerged Nobanda’s family had known about her trip to Brazil beforehand and her mother, Honjiswa Mbewu, had even spoken to her on the phone while she was in Brazil.

Mbewu said the girls were going on a short vacation and were due back this weekend, while Rwanqa’s older sister said she was told the trip was for work.

This contradicts earlier statements by the family that they thought the pair was on a two-week holiday in Port Elizabeth.

The Rwanqas are upset over a statement – allegedly made by Nobanda’s mother, Mbewu, following the arrest – that Mbewu’s daughter was led astray.

Rwanqa’s mother, Noskuta, said: “Babsie’s (Nobanda’s) mother said her daughter had no reason to do this because she was preparing to study at Rhodes or Fort Hare, and wants for nothing.

It’s now all being made out as if my daughter, because we’re poor, is the one who coerced her to do
what she did.”

Mbewu, during an interview with City Press, said Rwanqa was not among her daughter’s group of friends. The two met less than a year ago, but had grown incredibly close.

Nobanda went to Victoria Girls High School, a prominent school in Grahamstown, had a stint at Wits and was studying through correspondence at Unisa.

Rwanqa went to school at Nombulelo High School in Grahamstown and finished matric at a college in Port Elizabeth. She could not afford to study after school.

Mbewu said: “Just because of our situation, it now seems like it was easier for Sulezi (Rwanqa) to do what she had done, but I’m in no position to say anything about that. We both don’t know anything.”

It also emerged the girls both had boyfriends they visited regularly and were seen with in Port Elizabeth.

Another friend of Nobanda, Asanda Gqeke, earlier said Nobanda had shown her a bank balance of R20?000 at dinner a month before her departure abroad.

It was reported this week that Gqeke saw her friend for the last time on the night of November 27, when they parted ways in Port Elizabeth.

Nobanda was supposed to meet another woman that night.

Mbewu said the family did not know where her daughter allegedly got R20 000 from.

Noskuta Rwanqa said she was particularly worried because her daughter was alone in a foreign land.
She urged her to try and track down the South African embassy in Thailand.

Rwanqa said her daughter told her – during one of her calls – that she was running out of money.

 “I’m really worried about her because she’s got nothing there, and at some stage may be forced to do horrible things to survive.”

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