Ex-model tells of time in Thai jail

2013-08-29 00:00

TELLING the story of the humiliation and anguish she suffered while serving a sentence in a Thailand jail for being a drug mule proved a worthwhile course because it offered encouragement to others.

This was the message yesterday when the former Miss SA semi-finalist Vanessa Goosen delivered an emotional talk about her time in jail at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus.

She was arrested in Thailand in 1994. She still claims that she was duped into collecting some books on behalf of a friend. But she got the shock of her life when airport security in Thailand discovered heroin hidden in the books. She was found guilty of smuggling drugs and had to serve 16 years in jail.

Goosen went from having the world as her oyster –– model, a young businesswoman and carrying an unborn baby girl –– to finding everything falling apart.

She took the audience on her harrowing journey about how she slept on the floor, used the filthy toilet in the flooded cell in front of other inmates, and how in her feeble state she delivered a baby girl in an uncomfortable bed in hospital.

“They gave me 13 stitches. I was so cold. They couldn’t give me blankets. Two hours after I gave birth I had to go back to the prison. They put me in the back of a bakkie. I was in such pain. It was a bumpy ride all the way to prison. I felt my stitches open. The pain was so much. I collapsed,” she recalled.

Her late best friend, Melanie Holmes, fetched her daughter, then three, from prison and took care of her while she was locked up.

Goosen was released from prison in 2010.

The 40-year-old recently published a book, Drug Muled, and has started spreading a message of hope to those who care to listen or read her book.

“My book is to encourage and to give hope. It doesn’t matter what you face on the daily basis or what you’re suffering now and you think you can’t survive. You will, and you can, because I did. Please don’t give up.”

She said her daughter, now 18, is studying IT and their relationship is stronger than ever.

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