Drug mule mom reaches out

2011-12-13 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL South Coast mother Marie Swanepoel knows what it feels like to have a drug mule daughter in a foreign jail, but unlike the Linden family of Durban, she doesn’t have to deal with the pain of having a loved one executed.

Janice Linden (38) was executed yesterday morning by Chinese authorities.

Swanepoel’s daughter, Tessa Beetge (34), has four more years of her sentence to serve in a Sao Paulo jail.

It will be three and a half years today that Beetge was sentenced for drug trafficking in Brazil and on Friday Swanepoel will be able to make her twice yearly, 15-minute call to her daughter.

No such luck for the Linden family, whose last contact with Janice was on Sunday, only hours before her execution. They have exchanged a few letters.

Chinese officials have handed over Janice’s ashes to a South African diplomat who will ensure that her family receives them.

Offering the Linden family her condolences, Swanepoel said: “When I heard on the news what they had done to her I was very shocked and very sad. It was just cruel and unjust.

“My sympathies go out to her family and friends. I don’t even know if she has children, what she has and doesn’t have. I just feel so sorry for all of them. May God give them everything they need to get through this.”

Swanepoel said she thanked God that Tessa is safe and hadn’t been tried in China.

Left: Tessa Beetge.

“If the same thing were to happen to her I would have gone out of my mind; it would have just been the end of a lot of things.”

Swanepoel appealed to youngsters not to get involved in drug trafficking.

“I know it’s about making money, but you are only getting yourselves into trouble and making the drug dealers rich. It’s not worth it. The heartache you put your parents through is not worth it,” she said.

Right: Wellington and Virginia Linden, the parents of Janice Linden.

e-News Beijing correspondent John Bailey told The Witness that two of Linden’s older sisters arrived in China on Friday and visited her on Sunday. They were allowed to spend less than an hour with her, surrounded by Chinese officials. They opted not to tell her she would die by lethal injection the next day.

“The two sisters were very mature in handling the situation. They said they could not tell her about the execution as that would have burdened her. They had no physical contact as they were separated by a glass partition. They were only allowed to communicate in English, not in isiZulu or any other language.”

Right: Janice Linden.

Bailey said Linden only became aware that she would die an hour or so before the lethal injection was administered yesterday morning.

She was called to appear before three judges in Guangzhou around 3 am South African time and was informed that she would be put to death. She died around 4.30 am.

“The officials would not say much except that in China everyone is treated the same under the laws of the land, whether you are foreign or local,” he said.

Linden’s mother, Virginia, reportedly died two months ago. Her father, Wellington, is too heartbroken to speak.

eTV quoted Linden’s stepsister, Elaine Biyela, as saying: “She has gone to a better place.”

A family friend, Wentworth councillor Aubrey Snyman, told The Witness he believes the matter was not dealt with fairly.

He is concerned that Linden maintained her innocence until the end, although the Chinese court had given her a two-year reprieve in which to admit guilt and receive a jail term instead.

“Why would she plead not guilty knowing that it would cost her life? She could have pleaded guilty to avoid death so now the question is, did she commit the crime?

Linden’s brother, Ramon, told The Witness an official statement will be released once the family was able to meet.

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