SA drug mule says friend betrayed her

2012-02-07 22:42

Grahamstown - After at least a month and half of having no contact with her family, South African drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda has written to her parents from prison in Bangkok, Thailand.

In letters, shown to Sapa, Nobanda has written to her family revealing critical information of how she landed up in Thailand.

Nobanda was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on December 12 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 (R1.2m) in her dreadlocks.

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

Since then she has been detained in prison waiting for her formal court appearance on March 19.

In a letter received by her family this week, Nobanda wrote that she was in good spirits and upbeat about the coming trial since she would only be charged for attempting to smuggle 600g of cocaine rather than the initial 1.5kg as earlier reported.

Bangkok authorities are only considering the cocaine, not the baking powder it was mixed with, which made the total weight 1.5kg.

This could considerably reduce her sentence.

Nobanda also wrote that at the time of her arrest she was with her friend Sulezi Rwanqa. She wrote that Rwanqa betrayed her and successfully made a safe return to South Africa.

When asked where Rwanqa was locals in Grahamstown said they had spotted her partying in different taverns in the township.

One of the locals, who did not want to be named, said he had spotted her last week.

"I saw Sulezi last week in Makhaya's tavern. Since her return she has had her hair cut off, but that day everyone was gossiping about her return from Bangkok," he said.

Used as a decoy

In her latest letter this week, Nobanda told her parents that she was appointed a Bangkok state lawyer.

The family said it would also be sending a legal adviser and a family member to comfort Nobanda during her court appearance in March.

"I can confirm to you that a family member will travel to attend the trial and we are communicating with the South African embassy that side," Nobanda's mother Honjiswa Mbewu said.

In the emotional letter Nobanda asked for her family for their understanding and forgiveness.

"First and probably the most important thing I want to say is I'm sorry to all of you. I know that I have disappointed, hurt and humiliated the whole family. I ask for forgiveness," Nobanda wrote.

In her letter, Nobanda also indicated that she was coping in prison and praying hard for a safe return home.

"I try to stay strong and ask of God to strengthen me every day. The bottom line is, in life one has to pay for the mistakes they make and I have come to accept my punishment.

"My only regret now is that you also have to suffer because of my mistakes," she wrote.

Nobanda also admitted in one of her letters that she was used as decoy, because she had refused to collaborate with a drug syndicate in Brazil.

In fear of what might happen to her and her family, she decided to board a plane to Bangkok, where she was caught.

She wrote that things got bad when she was welcomed by a man in Brazil and not her friend Rwanqa, who had travelled to Brazil two days earlier to prepare for work.

  • jack.oosthuysen - 2012-02-07 22:51

    Sulezi will be in the news from hereon.

      John - 2012-02-08 01:52

      Ahaaa.... Now Bapsi seeks for mercy. Mixing 600 grams with baking soda to 1,5kg....hmmmm better stay in jail there. It will be safe for everyone and you also.

      John - 2012-02-08 01:57

      Oh No... ..."In fear of what might happen to her and her family, she decided to board a plane to Bangkok, where she was caught" which part of the story Father Christmas says "Ho-Ho-Hoooooooo'? Why in fear you didn't cut your hair extensions prior to departure?

      ChrisAlexanderSAV - 2012-02-08 02:56

      I really don't agree with Boer. How will they learn why what they did was wrong if they're dead? they should have hard labor in prison and those people should have it for a long amount of time.

      Timothy - 2012-02-08 04:20

      1.6kg or 600g it is all the same to the Thai authorities. Dont get your hopes up. At best you are looking at a life sentence in Bangkhwan prison, at worst execution. #Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      yolie.Landa - 2012-02-08 08:35

      Hell no. We wanna see the whole letter. They cant tell us bits and pieces that please them. There are still lies in this letter. SUlezi Rwanqa updated before their depature that she was leaving for Brazil with Babsie on facebook. Since when now did they arrive on different times. And it was even said Sulezi's phone was with Babsi at the time of the arrest. Now there's baking powder LMAO. I like her spirit though,,,

      Ian - 2012-02-08 09:56

      AAAAWWWWWW SHAME! Was the drug smugglers friend dishonest? Hell, you just can't trust anyone these days.............

  • Myvision - 2012-02-07 22:51


      ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-08 09:54

      Hahaha true story, and the devil made her do it LOL

  • Wayne - 2012-02-07 23:19

    How do they airport authorities not know how this works yet?? The person gets caught with a small amount (through a tip off) while the 20 kg's walks through with no problem while they are arresting the decoy...

      John - 2012-02-08 02:21

      Wayne, Airport authorities and...lets call "the other guys" have seen this movie long ago. They can grant access to a mule true security in order to get a bigger intel. Bapsi and mules are expendable in general. Bapsi tought is "CLEVAAAR" and can mix the package for own benefit. I bet the "Management" of Nobanda personaly call police in Bangkok reporting "irregularities"... one mixes cocaine X 2.5 That "Cocktail" cannot be sold even in Diepsloot. Stop writing poems! All your fault and don't seek for mercy.

      Timothy - 2012-02-08 04:22

      I find it hard to believe the decoy story. In fact when they(the authorities) know their is a mule on a flight they will be extra vigilant

      Hector - 2012-02-08 06:54

      Jeez Wayne .. you are a genius.... now if only the airport Customs had someone soooooooo clever on their staff ... hehehe

      procold2 - 2012-02-08 08:14

      2 wayne,the drug syndicates are very rich and powerful, the reason the 20kg's walks through with no problems is because the offcials are paid to catch the mule, good old SA is not the only country that has corrupt officals,these things are planned and in a country like thailand where there are such strict drug laws and so many tourists makes cocaine a very lucrative market

      Marius - 2012-02-08 09:05

      AND remember the Thai authorities are as corrupt as the South African authorities.....Just not so in your face about it as the South African authorities.

      yolie.Landa - 2012-02-08 10:02

      And on her facebooK Babsie indicated she was having a great time in Brazil. "South America has been nice, but there is no place like home. I hope your COOLER BOXES are ready bangane"

      Mariette - 2012-02-08 12:15

      That is so true Wayne, either the authorities are too stupid or they are involved.

  • akaRags - 2012-02-07 23:22

    Even as a decoy, as she claims, she still got involved in shady dealings in the first place and only really has herself to blame. At least she realises she has done wrong - "The bottom line is, in life one has to pay for the mistakes they make and I have come to accept my punishment", although it took getting caught for her to realise that - what if she'd gotten away with it? Would she have gottn brave and done it again? Quite possibly I'm sure. I've said this before - I do not make a lot of money, I don't live in the best neighbourhood, I ride a 20+ year old motorbike and I would love to have that "white picket fenced dream house" in a decent suburb (well, in South Africa it would be the high walled house), but I would rather live like I am, in what I describe as "genteel poverty", knowing I am doing an honest days work rather than getting invovled with low life people, who do not care about the lives they damage because of drugs & money.

  • Sam - 2012-02-07 23:57

    Sulezi got lucky and that good for her, chances are they could have been both arrested

      ChrisAlexanderSAV - 2012-02-08 02:59

      they need to punish her too, not good for her, unless god had something else planned for her...

      trix.duvenage - 2012-02-08 11:39

      If she was a decoy the stuff in her hairlocks should have been 100% baking powder [or even flower of lollyfilla or white cement] Why MIX it with Coke?? Drug mules deserves DEATH [like rapists and murderers deserve DEATH.] China has the right medicine for these mules/asses/donkeys. Turn them into ashes and REturn them to the local ties in South Africa. WE NEED A CHINESE PRESIDENT!!!

      Gail - 2012-02-08 17:44

      No honour between thieves.

      phuti.fisha - 2012-06-19 08:00

      @chris I think her turn s cum'n n we'l b fel'n sorry 4 her

      phuti.fisha - 2012-06-19 08:48

      @chris I think her turn s cum'n n we'l b fel'n sorry 4 her

      phuti.fisha - 2012-06-19 08:50

      @chris I think her turn s cum'n n we'l b fel'n sorry 4 her

  • Marcell - 2012-02-08 00:30

    Can we petition the Thai government for the death penalty?

      Zolisa Jela - 2012-02-08 06:16


      Aijaman - 2012-02-08 10:13

      Some people can write stupid comments

      Lerato - 2012-02-08 14:19

      Let thy without SIN cast the first stone!!!

  • ChrisvdHeyde - 2012-02-08 00:48

    It is good and right if someone has the courage to stand up and admit that you did wrong. She is still very young. Although she will have to face justice, her attitude seems right. She does not blame others and she seems to understand the harm she causes her family. We all make mistakes. Did Jesus not say to a crowd that the one without sin (mistakes) must cast the first stone?

      ChrisAlexanderSAV - 2012-02-08 03:00

      well spoken.

      Marion - 2012-02-08 07:54

      Would she have had the courage to stand up and admit that she was wrong if she hadn't been caught? I think not. I am sure she would have been quite happy to take the next consignment and the 'easy' money she could earn. She says she has accepted her punishment yet she doesn't even know what it is yet. Wonder if she'll really accept a life sentence or death sentence or if she'll be begging for a reduced sentence.

      Marion - 2012-02-08 08:47

      @DFumisile Dee Nene - No, I'm not a saint. But I'm not a drug mule either.

      Aijaman - 2012-02-08 10:14

      Well spoken Chris...I take my hat off

      trix.duvenage - 2012-02-08 11:58

      Chrisvd merwe or hyde says: 'She does not blame others....'Why dont you read the article properly before commenting. Yes she is young but for crying in a bucket, she can read and I suppose she can see and hear. Do you want to tell me she didnt know what happens to drug mules if they get caugt in the EAST? The same applies for armed robbers here in Rainbowland: They are more than aware of the 'Aim for the head' and 'shoot to kill' policy locally but they simply DO NOT CARE! How will the rest of the community ever LEARN if the authoroties do not implement the correct kind of PREVENTATIVE PUNISHMENTS?? If you live by the sword you must die by the sword. If you want to wreck the lives of the masses you must be prepqared to take the rap. Look around you and wake up to the real world as far as drugs is concerned Chris.... These morons might supply your children or grand children with that crap tomorrow and what will you have to say then? Yes..Jesus did forgive and yes that is the best advise but for all you and I know the drug dealers do not WANT to know Jesus and He also said if you mix with the wrong substance you might become hogsfood..

  • Miguel Lopez - 2012-02-08 01:40

    It's slightly better than having 1.5kg of dandruff in your hair I suppose?

      ChrisAlexanderSAV - 2012-02-08 03:00

      that's funny.

  • Mark - 2012-02-08 01:47

    Like most criminals, she's only sorry because she got caught. If she had completed this 'job' successfully, she would be in the nearest shopping mall, or casino, enjoying the high life. Scum never think that they will get caught, they underestimate everyone else's intelligence and then add insult to injury by shedding crocodile tears in order to escape their just punishment. I hope she enjoys her stay in a Thai jail, it is exactly where she belongs.

      crystal.gate.9 - 2012-07-04 21:57

      For me a person driving car with alcohol in blood this is the criminal whom deserve life in jail are the people selling alcohol and tobacco, they are the biggest mafia in the world, this girl is a poor sheep, no one force you to take cocaine but people like you force me to breath smoke and deal with drunk people I prefer this girl, she is much more harmless than heartless people as you are.

  • ChrisAlexanderSAV - 2012-02-08 03:02

    I don't like that jail is supposed to teach people not to do things and is a punishment, but how come some people come out worse than ever because of jail? Isn't that what we were fighting AGAINST?

  • Pawel - 2012-02-08 03:13

    hahaham, she didn't know that the white powder in her hair is illegal.. perhaps it was baby powder...

  • Sarel Brits - 2012-02-08 04:11

    Funny how people ask God for strength when they are in trouble but never stopped to think or ask Him before we get in it

      dumisiledee - 2012-02-08 08:11

      Have you heard God complaining? then why are you complaining on His behalf?

      Ilze - 2012-02-08 08:42

      @ Dumisile Dee Nene, I couldn't agree with you more.

      Craig - 2012-02-08 09:56

      Is she also asking god to look after and help the people who are hooked on her drugs?

      Aijaman - 2012-02-08 10:19

      Dumisile good question..Why he complain on his behalf...hahahahaha I love it!!!

      Evan - 2012-02-08 10:31

      Yup, it's called temporal faith, it's typical of the human condition, when the fertilizer hits the proverbial fan, everyone is prepared to call out on God, as a last resort when all their own efforts have failed. A real shame!

      trix.duvenage - 2012-02-08 12:06

      DD-Nene and Ilze: Why dont both of you think clearer. God does not speak from outerspace or out of thin air. He is Spirit and He has no hands but YOUR hands and no lips but YOUR lips. SArel is hitting the bullseye [but only as far as the true believers are concerned] I always say: 'Don't tell me what you me...

  • PJthesecond - 2012-02-08 04:27

    Drugs destroy lives and regularly people die due to drugs. Policing drugs cost money and is a burden on us tax payers. As a father of 4 sons, I have no problem when certain countries executing drug mules.

      Esther Badenhorst - 2012-02-08 08:18

      And let's say one of your boys got caught up with the wrong group of friends and got tangled up in this situation, have some empathy..

      Esther Badenhorst - 2012-02-08 08:18

      And let's say one of your boys got caught up with the wrong group of friends and got tangled up in this situation, have some empathy..

      Trudy - 2012-02-08 09:30

      People make choices: drug mules as well as drug users. If there were no demand for drugs there would not have been a need for drug mules. Drug users are not completely bame free.

  • Sipho - 2012-02-08 05:10

    Reading the article Nolubabalo comes across as the victim ... She knew exactly what she was doing and should spend a long time in jail!

  • raymond.kok3 - 2012-02-08 06:05


  • Andre - 2012-02-08 06:19

    Drug mules are potential murderers and deserve no sympathy whatsoever! They destroy lives for money and deserve the highest penalty.

  • Barefoot - 2012-02-08 06:28

    The lady is not asking for your forgiveness people she's apologizing to her family. she's not asking to be released she's ready to take her punishment but rather too optimistic i reckon. and why would you have a problem with that?

      dumisiledee - 2012-02-08 08:13

      Thank you Barefoot. Some people are just stupid and like to act all holier than thou!

      Ilze - 2012-02-08 08:44

      I agree Barefoot. But I suppose finding joy in the mysery of others make some feel better about themselves and their own problems.

      carmelledoualla - 2012-02-08 08:56

      im with you Barefoot.

      Scebberish - 2012-02-08 09:36

      Apologising to her family, in the newspapers? If you dont want publicity or public comment, then this is hardly the way to go about it! What she is trying to do is become high profile to try get a lesser sentence. Sadly it wont work in this part of the world though. They hang you for being in possesion of a firearm here without you even using it.

      Scebberish - 2012-02-08 09:38

      so it should indicate that her chances as a drug mule are similar.

      Trudy - 2012-02-08 09:42

      @ Scebberish/ holier than thou. She wrote a letter to her family not to the press

      Linda - 2012-02-08 10:06

      Well said Barefoot.

      dumisiledee - 2012-02-08 10:06

      @Scebberish it wasn't to the paper it was a letter to her family, the family decided to show it to the media

      Aijaman - 2012-02-08 10:30

      Barefoot some even say " I wonder why she did not think about god when she was transferring drugs"..This shows how short sited people can they be...Do they think GOD when they drive or they think about GOD when they are in accident???

  • hotazhel - 2012-02-08 06:31

    WTF - "She admitted to authorities she smuggled the drugs and said she was hired to deliver the cocaine to a customer at a hotel in Bangkok".... "In fear of what might happen to her and her family, she decided to board a plane to Bangkok, where she was caught". Who's foolin who......?

      Aijaman - 2012-02-08 10:47

      No one is fooling who can't u use your small mind to analyse...When she board the plan in fear of her family was she not smuggling drugs?There is any difference when u board on plane with fear or no fear..Fact is you carry drugs and you are smuggling drugs either you got fear or not..So no one is fooling who..Don't look for consipancy theories

  • Russell - 2012-02-08 06:38

    Thats what drug muleing is all about honey...............Betrayal!

  • Nyiko Ngobeni - 2012-02-08 06:43

    This gal is dumb as a mule and thinks we are too! Nobody forcefully put the drugs in her hair and that's the bottom line. Its not like someone the drugs into her bag or something..

  • paul.duplessis - 2012-02-08 07:40

    Bad decisions always yield bad results...

  • Marion - 2012-02-08 07:48

    "My ONLY regret now is that you also have to suffer because of my mistakes," she wrote. No regret that she was almost party to destroying the lives of other people and would have been if she hadn't been caught? The only one who betrayed her was herself. Her greed was greater than her concern for the lives that would be destroyed by her cargo - many of them children. That cocaine didn't get into her hair by accident. Drug addicts, remember that while you may be paying for pure cocaine it has been cut - with baking soda nogal - but the price is the same.

      Ilze - 2012-02-08 08:51

      Oh put a cork in it Marion Teresa. It was a personal letter addressed to her own family, not an open letter to the world. The woman made a mistake and she's being punished for it, end of story. Stop acting like your some kind of saint.

      dumisiledee - 2012-02-08 10:09

      No one is saying she shouldn't be punished Marion, she should be punished for what she did, what I'm against is that you are complaining that she's apologising to her family for causing them misery. She made a mistake a huge one that is and she's gonna pay for it heck she has already started paying for it.

      Mbulelo - 2012-02-08 10:19

      Give it a rest Marion...the girl's family have forgiven her haven't they?Why all the fuss?

  • Blane - 2012-02-08 07:51

    Drug peddlers , mules or dealers should serve a life sentence in a salt mine

  • Ntombenhle - 2012-02-08 07:51

    We ALL make mistakes in life, and most of us never get caught, but we ALL make mistakes. Pray that she is given a second chance at life and that her family forgives her...

      Marion - 2012-02-08 08:03

      There are mistakes and there are mistakes. Drugs destroy lives and families and now you are asking for a second chance for her? The only way to deal with drug dealers, mules, manufacturers etc., is with very harsh punishment. Chances are that if the 'opportunity' to 'earn' money seems too good to be true then it is.

      carmelledoualla - 2012-02-08 09:00

      im with you, we all make mistakes in this world. i believe she should be given a second chance. We all had second chances when God died for our sins.

      Trudy - 2012-02-08 09:51

      @ Marion Teresa (Nice one Ilze) Get off your high horse!

  • Gerrie - 2012-02-08 07:57

    Hang the bitch and get it over with. Don’t need soggy excuses now.

      carmelledoualla - 2012-02-08 09:01

      next time i might be you for someting else. no need to call her names please. she did not sleep with one of your family member.

  • phumlanii - 2012-02-08 08:01

    I feel their grief, the lady and the family. Sad she will still face the Thai's wrath.

  • Moses - 2012-02-08 08:04

    why would south africans even attempt to smuggle drugs internationally knowing the harsh punishments given if you get caught just show how terrible the circumstances are @home,i am not trying to justify what she did, but the gap between rich and poor are just too big come on anc and zuma do your job or face face a repeat of the zimbabwean crisis for the least or a full scale civil war .cause when people has tasted freedom you can never oppress them again without the risk of war.

      carmelledoualla - 2012-02-08 09:02

      well sais Moses

  • Jim - 2012-02-08 08:05

    she must rot in jail

  • Ryan - 2012-02-08 08:06

    BOO HOOO HOOO! See you my CHINA!?!?!

  • Hugh - 2012-02-08 08:06

    Yes we know the BS lady. Becuase of people like you I have had my time wasted at airport customs in Lima, Spain, Thailand and many other countries. You and people like you have caused customs all over the world to distrust South Africans.

  • Mlungisi - 2012-02-08 08:08

    Better you accept, when all is over plz dont try to be a motivational speaker.....

  • Nasiefa - 2012-02-08 08:08

    SERIOUSLY ...... WHATEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Estelle - 2012-02-08 08:09

    Whether you are a decoy or muling 10 kgs, you knew what you were doing. You consciously braided drugs into your hair and went to a foreign country. At any point, you could have stopped - you shouldn't have started in the first place.

  • MSGRule - 2012-02-08 08:12

    Banged up abroad should be broadcast on SABC so that all the potential mules can see how to and nto to do it. And they all happy to carry on with the "last" one until they get caught then the sorrow comes over them etc. No wishing ill on anyone but all of them say that was the best thign to happen to them as they could nto stop themselves

  • SARealist - 2012-02-08 08:29

    Greed is why she is in jail.

  • craig.vanstraten - 2012-02-08 08:33

    She's got a problam!

  • Perfume5 - 2012-02-08 08:38

    In her letter, Nobanda also indicated that she was coping in prison and praying hard for a safe return return home, that is not going to happen Nobanda, you will be spending a very long time in Thailand's prison

      Trudy - 2012-02-08 11:48

      Thank you for the lesson. We r-e-a-l-y did not know that!

      phuti.fisha - 2012-06-19 07:28

      Which is sumthng I doubt, I really feels sorry 4 her.

  • Jacky Mutsila - 2012-02-08 08:42

    you gona rot in jail girl,where u@ is nt SA its Thailand

      Sisanda - 2012-02-08 11:35

      You are completely unnecessary and a waiste of space!

  • Susan - 2012-02-08 08:45

    why the hell did she carry the drugs knowing what might happen if she got caught!!!a little toooo late!!!

  • Paula - 2012-02-08 08:54

    Nolu sweetie cupcake,easy money comes with much consquences...If or when you get home I suggest you get yourself a puppy to replace your tavern queen back stabbing so called friend.Everyone for themselves...Come on you a big you should know that by now....

      dumisiledee - 2012-02-08 10:11

      If she comes home which I doubt

  • Nkgorupo - 2012-02-08 08:56

    People must know about the damage caused by drugs to families in the long run. 1,5kg can destroy half of a township in SA. It's better to loose one person through execution, rather than having 500 drug addicts.

  • lsmkhwanaz - 2012-02-08 09:09

    When you fear for your family, you come straight to them not go the opposite way. Another wasted life.

      Trudy - 2012-02-08 11:36

      You were in a similar situation?

  • Dave - 2012-02-08 09:14

    Thailand + drugs = life sentence or death, I wouldn't make any plans in South African for at least the next 20 - 30 years.

      dumisiledee - 2012-02-08 10:12


  • Gerrie - 2012-02-08 09:16

    carmel i really think you are also a drug mule. Bastard....

  • Rex - 2012-02-08 09:17

    "your Honour", the accussed is clearly guilty and should be sent to prison to serve her sentence.It is a pity in the game of drugs u get sentenced unlike in politics where u get suspended.Talk about choosing careers.

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-02-08 09:24

    You do the crime you do the time..

  • Susan - 2012-02-08 09:27

    For some stupid reason some South African's think they can get away with their pranks in other countries!! sorry sister not this time!!!

  • Holden - 2012-02-08 09:34

    For me there are two aspects: Firstly, she has been dishonest. She would have been asked the "Mantra" before boarding, including: "Has anyone asked you to carry anything?" Secondly, the crime involved a huge amount of premeditation.

  • Tshivhombela Fhatuwani - 2012-02-08 09:38

    What a load of bull! You betrayed yourself mam and you know exactly what you were doing.

  • Mbuzeli Ben Boya - 2012-02-08 09:42

    Its so freakin sad realy i feel you gal

      Aijaman - 2012-02-08 09:53

      Mbuzeli SAD indeed..No point now to dwell on what she has done. It's wrong we know. Right now it's time to support her. I just wish that when she comes back one day she can join these campaign to educate other people that drug trafficking is a dangerous game.