Drug mule 'co-operated with authorities'

2012-06-18 13:48

Pretoria - A Bangkok court jailed South African Nolubabalo "Babsie" Nobanda for 15 years on Monday for smuggling cocaine in her dreadlocks.

International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said Nobanda was also fined R250 000.

"Initially, she was given a 30-year sentence but that term was reduced because she was co-operative with the authorities. They reduced the jail sentence by half," said Monyela.

He said the department was in contact with Nobanda’s family in South Africa.


"Yes, we are always in contact with them. Through our embassy in Thailand we will continue to visit her [in jail] and give her necessary support," he said.

Nobanda, from Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape, was arrested at the Bangkok International Airport in December for trying to smuggle cocaine from Brazil to Thailand.

Police found 1.5kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of $150 000 (about R1.2m) in her dreadlocks.

She admitted to smuggling the drugs and said she had been hired to deliver the cocaine to a customer at a hotel in Bangkok.

She has been imprisoned since then.

Nobanda was represented by a Bangkok state lawyer.

The family planned to send a legal adviser and a family member to attend the judgment on Monday, but her mother Honjiswa Mbewu confirmed on Sunday that the trip had been cancelled.

"I had to cancel my journey to that county because my doctor has indicated that I suffer from acute stress and may not be fit to travel," Mbewu said. Her safety was another reason.

"The syndicate which led Nobanda to Brazil has not yet been arrested by the South African authorities."

  • Irene - 2012-06-18 14:05

    She got what she deserved. Pity the sentence wasn't harsher.

      johan.lombard.33 - 2012-06-18 14:29

      I disagree - She admitted her guilt and her sentence is fair. People make mistakes - especially young people who are desperate for money. I agree she must be sentenced, she was absolutely stupid. But 15 years seems adequate, even too harsh for me. They must capture the people who set her up.

      price.moyo.9 - 2012-06-18 14:32

      Irene u r the meanest woman on earth, obviously the grug mule was pushed into this by the abject poverty dogging SA majority.

      Deon - 2012-06-18 14:37

      You do the crime, do the time.

      Rob - 2012-06-18 14:39

      Don't make excuses price.moyo.9. What if your son/daughter was the unlucky one to become addicted or the one that overdosed with the batch she was transporting?

      Irene - 2012-06-18 14:42

      price ~ First it was apartheid, then culture, and now it's the poverty card! At what point do you look at yourself and take responsibility for your own actions instead of trying to blame everything on somebody or something else? Have you ever seen the results of drugs? Do you know how many lives are destroyed because of drugs? Time for people to stand up and sort themselves out and work for a living instead of looking for the quick route. There is no easy route to wealth and the sooner you understand that the better for you and all those wanting 'economic freedom'.

      Mondli - 2012-06-18 14:46

      Then Rob your son/daughter would've suffered the same fate of making a stupid decision by taking the drugs in the first place? You are not being impartial in your comment

      johan.lombard.33 - 2012-06-18 14:54

      Mondli - My point exactly. The user is just as guilty as the mule and the pusher.

      Nyiks11 - 2012-06-18 15:03

      her biggest mistake was to "befriend" her handlers , from there it was downhill because these okes will threaten to kill your family if you do not comply . Standard modus operandi ladies and gents , who are we to judge ?

      merven.halo - 2012-06-18 15:06

      Look on the bright side, after 15 years she'll know a new language!

      price.moyo.9 - 2012-06-18 15:10

      Irene, i am a black zimbabwean but live in uk, before i came here i had never seen the so called \junkies\, people ruined by these drugs lol. I share yo sentiments, yes its awful to see people reduced to zombies by these drugs. But in africa people r forced to go into this dangerous trade thru dispair. Irene, hv u ever been so desperate u dnt knw where the next meal is coming from? Sadly independence in africa is just an excuse for few blacks to ride the gravy train, n the rest suffer while raising their fists Amandla! God help us!

      price.moyo.9 - 2012-06-18 15:10

      Irene, i am a black zimbabwean but live in uk, before i came here i had never seen the so called \junkies\, people ruined by these drugs lol. I share yo sentiments, yes its awful to see people reduced to zombies by these drugs. But in africa people r forced to go into this dangerous trade thru dispair. Irene, hv u ever been so desperate u dnt knw where the next meal is coming from? Sadly independence in africa is just an excuse for few blacks to ride the gravy train, n the rest suffer while raising their fists Amandla! God help us!

      johan.lombard.33 - 2012-06-18 15:29

      Price - I am sure you have not visited Cape Town or Johannesburg yet! LOL - Plenty of junkies here as well!

      Gestoffle - 2012-06-18 15:41

      You think 15 years is too harsh? some say she should get the death sentence; she felt nothing to ruin other people's lives. FFS, this was not a mistake!!!!!! @Price "Irene, hv u ever been so desperate u dnt knw where the next meal is coming from? " Sorry my friend, that is simply not good enough for me. Your integrity says earn money the right way. If you are the majority living in poverty; then blame your parents, go into depression, then get over it. Then after you have settled, use your head that God gave you, and make money morally.

      Antipoaching - 2012-06-18 16:13

      @Price.moyo.9 she is not "dogged by abject poverty", she actually had quite a privileged childhood and attended VG School (former model c school) and led a privileged life... I know this because I live in Grahamstown and small towns being what they are one always knows some-one who knows the story. A large part of growing up was done in a very nice upmarket Grahamstown suburb not in the township...

      kalman.dittrich - 2012-06-18 17:23

      Very short sighted my dear, with her sentenced the real dealer is free and nothing happens to him, The poor victim takes the Knock, Her entire life thrown away because of big promises and assurances, Wrong call sweet heart :)

  • Peter - 2012-06-18 14:08

    Shows that the authorities are useless, why not use the mule to catch the kingpin? Or are the authorities involved.

      patricia.gerber.908 - 2012-06-18 14:43

      Peter you hit the nail on the head. Read Crimes against humanity which you will find on the 'locked up in a foreign country website'.

  • junevincent.matshiya - 2012-06-18 14:08

    Dats too much

      Irene - 2012-06-18 14:13

      What's 'dat'?

      ianon.ym - 2012-06-18 14:28

      @Irene - 'Dat' is the result of SA's Education Standard ...

      daryltt - 2012-06-18 14:53

      Dat's not enough then. Back to shool.

      Trevor - 2012-06-18 15:05

      Hope you didn't pass wit Dat

      merven.halo - 2012-06-18 15:08

      Dats funny.

      Warren - 2012-06-18 16:28

      she should have got full sentence just for been stupid enough to try smuggling drugs into a country that you know takes drug trafficking seriously. stupid,stupid,stupid

  • garth.baldwin.96 - 2012-06-18 14:13

    She deserves everything that she gets. Zero sympathy from me!!

      felicia.mamba - 2012-06-18 15:28

      @ baldwin I am not suprised that you don't feel pity for the gal, there are so many heartless ppl like you but all I can tell you is that: never judge anyone that's God's department and you will never know what the tomorrows may bring.

  • amanda.s.jacobs - 2012-06-18 14:25

    @Garth by default your sympathy is exempt *side eyes* @ Irene you are heartless for a woman, shame on you.@ Tuco you are the only one with seems to have a head on his shoulders, @ Peter yes you're right this problem goes much deeper than this girl. We all make mistakes, and yes punishment is due however everybody deserves a little pardon and a second chance especially if that person does not pose a phyical threat.

      charlie.elford.5 - 2012-06-18 14:30

      amanda, I will try and respond to your puntuationless response as best I can. Could you please explain to me how this person does not pose a physical threat? Try telling that to a mother whose child is trapped and consumed by a drug addiction. Sorry, no sympathy from me either

      winston.mullany - 2012-06-18 14:37

      Everybody makes mistakes? Yes but fueling the drug trade regardless of what part of the drug chain you are in and knowing the fact that you willingly cutting the lives of many people short through the drugs you are carrying, is not much of an "oops, made a mistake" type of mistake. She's a criminal and should be subjected to that country's laws. She knowingly carried those drugs so she knew what she was doing so she is responsible for her own actions and therefore has no sympathy from me.

      johan.lombard.33 - 2012-06-18 14:37

      SamuraiMama - Stop always blaming the drug mules and the drug pushers for our children or adults being on drugs. The mules and the pushers would not have existed were it not for consumer demand. No one forces or threaten people to take drugs. Sorry, that is my opinion on the matter.

      khanyib1 - 2012-06-18 16:01

      Irene, right now it make no difference whether she gets a harsh sentence or not, the pushers have found another mule. why? demand. period. The more people fall into the drugs trap, the more supply will grow. it's a vicious circle. incarcerating one party cannot break the chain, as long as there are users, there will be supply. understand that, and commenters here will not find your words for cold.

      Antipoaching - 2012-06-18 16:18

      amanda she wasnt driven into this decision by desperation or poverty, she grew up in a privileged housein an affluent suburb in Grahamstown, I have NO sympathy for her. I see plenty of our students at Rhodes who have fought to overcome grinding poverty, who work 2 casual jobs just to make a bit of spending money, who rely on handouts from the University and who still excel academically, this girl has no excuse for her decision. The lesson to be learnt is that there is no quick road to riches.........

      pur.pleibus - 2012-06-18 16:52

      I am sorry for this girl's parents and family. She was a university student with a great future which she has just thrown away. If she was educated and smart enough to go to university, then she was smart enough to know, or to find out, what the risks were if she was caught. Of course, she is very sorry now but I don't believe she would have any regrets had she got away with it. This wasn't a little "whoops" like doing 70 in a 60 zone. This was a major crime. She bet her entire future that she could beat the system, and she lost. For her I can feel no sorrow at all.

      Dee - 2012-06-19 00:57

      Amanda - I feel pity for this girl and her family. BUT after living in countries that have 'Zero Tolerance' including death penalty for drug offences, I believe there is a marked difference in crime rates. Junkies are not only a threat to their own health - but typically support their habit through crime. e.g. Fly into Taipei, read the massive sign about death penalty for drugs ........ then feel very safe to walk the streets at 3am alone.

  • Phumi - 2012-06-18 14:35

    If we do not tackle the legacy of apartheid of unemployment and poverty we still going to have young people like Nolubabalo relinquishing in foreign jails. We need to fasttrack the gains of this revolution so that the African youth in particular and black in general can benefit and share the spoils of this freedom. We will forever call as the youth for the country's mineral wealth, strategic assets and land to be shared equally in our lifetime!

      winston.mullany - 2012-06-18 14:39

      WTF?? What has this got to with drugs?

      johan.lombard.33 - 2012-06-18 14:41

      Phumi - Let us be honest, drug mules exist in all nations. If you watch the show "banged up abroad" for example, it is not only poor Africans getting involved in this. People from first world nations such as Germany, the UK, the USA and Australia also tend to be drug mules. As for the rest of your political "economic freedom" tirade, leave that for a Julius Malema, Lamola, or ANCYL article.

      Irene - 2012-06-18 14:45

      Phuma ~ Get off your ass and work. That's the only way you'll ever have 'economic freedom'. Sorry pal, but nothing is for mahala!

      Clara - 2012-06-18 14:47

      Stupid, stupid person" Apartheid has been done with for 18yrs now - please do not lie this before apartheid - this girly is actualy only 1 of a few that gambled with her freedom and now has to pay the price - has she succeeded she would have done it again - if she had sold drugs to any of your family maybe you would have rethinked your comment - SA is not this bad - just keep on looking for a job (not looking but praying not to get one). Being jobless is no excuse for assisting in gambling with other peoples' health

  • Nwabisa - 2012-06-18 14:41

    "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

      Msika - 2012-06-18 15:24

      The Bangkok court has already cast a stone first on her.

      Irene - 2012-06-18 15:59

      I've never done anything illegal in my entire life. Have you?

  • nhanhaveronica.schwaartz - 2012-06-18 14:45

    Let this be a lesson to those Celebrity wonna-bee's!!! It's sad especially for the family members but ppl need to suffer the consequences!!!!

  • Shilly Maelane - 2012-06-18 14:47

    So that's why they call them "dreadlocks"... Coz u dread it when u get locked up for looking suspicious!!

      johan.lombard.33 - 2012-06-18 14:52

      hehehehehe - Fabulous!

  • johan.lombard.33 - 2012-06-18 14:48

    I am just so sick of people blaming the "Nigerians" or the drug mules in general for drug addiction. If there were no demand for drugs, these pushers would not have existed. In Thailand, for example, thousands of Western Tourists go there to party, and they do buy drugs. No one forces it down their mouthes. Even in SA, the kids who get hooked on drugs, should stop blaming everyone else. Peer pressure and all those things. What a bunch of nonsense. Parents should take responsibility for their kids. I know a few drug addicts and trust me, they were responsible for their own demise. Not the Nigerians that sold them the merchandise.

  • wallace.outkast - 2012-06-18 14:54

    thanks God she"s alive ...

  • Nyiks11 - 2012-06-18 14:55

    Sorry my girl , at least once the 15 years is through you will have a second chance to walk the straight and narrow. Give the names of your handlers to the SA authorities so that the syndicate can be dismantled

  • bella.bellas.77 - 2012-06-18 15:16

    i hope this will be a lesson to her and to the youth of SA @large. there is no easy way to have money go to school get an education and look for a job.

      Irene - 2012-06-18 15:45

      Careful bella.bellas or you'll be called 'heartless' as well. LOL!

  • vkupelo - 2012-06-18 15:19

    15 yrs is better than 30 yrs or life sentence.. B grateful cz wat u dd ws wrong.

      yolanda.zwenimanyakanyaka - 2012-06-20 08:24

      My question is that where is the fine going to come from as I read other comments with pp pleading poverty so who exactly is to pay the R250 000 fine:-?

  • Moleboheng9 - 2012-06-18 15:20

    Have you guys ever thought of how she might have ended up where she is now.....? she did wrong, she admitted to her wrong doing and she is doing time for it. u feeling sorry for her aint gonna change anything and won't make her feel any better. Yes IRENE, First it was apartheid, then culture, and now it's the poverty card now. I bet u if u were under any of those 3, u would have done worse. but argh, i don't expect u guys to feel anything for her.....*apartheid*

      Irene - 2012-06-18 15:47

      No Mole, I have morals and being 'poor' is not an excuse to commit crime. Sorry for you.

  • angela.monaghansandells - 2012-06-18 15:26

    Stop the blame game. She knew exactly what she was doing. We are all responsible for our own actions.

      Irene - 2012-06-18 15:47

      Spot on!

      pur.pleibus - 2012-06-18 17:05

      Yes - she knew and was fuelled by greed for instant riches. Forget the cr@p that she was a poor victim of apartheid. She had the money to be at university - but studying and then workings is the "hard" way to make money.

  • sibusiso.d.sithole - 2012-06-18 15:34

    she get what she deserve aint feel sorry for her 15 yrs is nothing drugs destroy people's life

  • magoro.mags - 2012-06-18 15:47

    Its really amazing how a simple debate about a girl sentenced for drug smuggling can be easily turned into a racial war of words...young people of all races should get over their colour.....

  • simone.hall.9083 - 2012-06-18 16:03

    please irene, what a joke wake up look at the bigger picture bla bla bla 'have you seen what drugs do to you' please don't blame a mule for that, thats pathetic the only person u blame for drugs is the person doing them no one else. SA should stop being lazy and find out how she got there in the first place. I hope she educates people in prison and in SA when she returns on what she did why and how a person can be so easily manipulated into thinking it will be ok. THAT is what is needed !!!!

  • Warren - 2012-06-18 16:23


  • mokoena.job - 2012-06-18 16:45

    If you push drugs, you are committing a crime, you are destroying a nation, you are destroying families, you are destroying beautiful lives, you are destroying a mother's nine months of carrying a baby. I am leaving with drug addicts, it is painful watching those people doing drugs and knowing sooner or later he/she will look like a hobo.

      tendaimoses.marawa - 2012-06-18 17:43

      "Crime does not pay" The unfortunate part in crime is being caught.Had she succeeded, well yeah! Buying drugs is a choice so blaming it on the mules is like trying to hide behind your finger.This is just an unfortunate incident so please give that girl a BELLS! Most of you are busy stealing company time commenting on this girl. You r equaly guilty only uncaught.

  • phiwon - 2012-06-18 20:34

    Rhulumente esinaye ubhetye-bhetye umzantsi yindawo yokufela amahashe kwenziwa unothanda nathi mabhinqa alapha silula asinaso isidma sethu yiyo lonto lamanigeria esenza unothanda kuba sithanda imali ZUMA awuboni na ukuba kuyonakala uthe ndwanya nje amehlo intwe phambili ngabafazi bakho......

  • Agnes Nkgudi - 2012-06-19 00:24

    Nolubabalo's family dnt hv to act as if they didnt knw wht she ws doing coz they knew n they ws just waiting for her to bring the R16000 home. so hard luck. she didnt win this tym around. #Though luck gal. 15 years is nt child's play.

      Nwabisa - 2012-06-19 08:59

      You're talking such crap! seriously.

  • maama.bujju - 2012-06-22 13:32

    that shows how junior/amateaur she is how could u accept everything a law is a lawu either say no or yes but you have commited the crime ull be pinished.

  • phumelele.magubane - 2012-06-22 23:05

    This story is very confusing, and with lots of questions unfortunately it happend , every one deserves a second chance , if they can't have mercy she just have to be strong and serve her time it gonna be difficult yes but law is law what can we say, damn she is very young for this , I hope the youth is gonna learn something from this let's choose our friends right and trusting no one is d way .Be Strong young lady 15 years eish

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