SA drug mule's mom knew about a trip

2011-12-16 19:00

Grahamstown - Drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda's mother knew her daughter was leaving for Brazil, she said on Friday.

"Yes... Nobanda did phone me saying she was at Cape Town International Airport and was due to board a plane to Brazil. When I asked why, she said she was just going for vacation," her mother Honjiswa Mcepu said from her Grahamstown home.

According to Mcepu, Nobanda called her two days after her departure, saying she was safe in Brazil.

"She asked me what she should buy for me, and I said anything."

During the conversation, Nobanda indicated she was to return home in the week after December 10.


"To me, she did not say anything about Bangkok. I knew nothing of that, but I knew she was overseas," Mcepu said.

Nobanda was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday 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.

Meanwhile, a friend of Nobanda's, Sulezi Rwanqa, 24, who went to Thailand on the same flight with her, said she was stuck in Bangkok.

Rwanqa's family said they received at least three calls from her this week indicating she was in the Thai capital and asked them to call for help.

"We did not know what to do, because at some point on Wednesday she said she may make a plan to get home, but today [December 16] she called saying she is still stranded," her mother Noskuta Rwanqa said from the family's home in Tantyi location, Grahamstown.

The family received another call on Friday from Bangkok, indicating she was running out of food and money and wanted to come home. Rwanqa gave her cellphone to Nobanda shortly before she was arrested, and was now using a payphone to call home.

According to Rwanqa's sister Lamla, her visa would expire at the end of the week.

"She told us that she was in Bangkok and she was stranded with nowhere to go and was watching Nobanda's arrest on TV."

The family pleaded with the South African embassy in Thailand to help.

"She is prepared to hand herself in, as long as she comes back to South Africa," Rwanqa's mother said.

"I do not know what to think now. I know my daughter is in foreign country, but how she is doing, I do not know. Can you assist?"

  • Perfume5 - 2011-12-16 19:37

    And as her mother, did she question her 23yr old daughter as to where she got the money from to holiday in Brazil. The mother seems to be chopping and changing her story.

      Moss Mphahlele - 2011-12-16 22:41

      She's Xhosa Perfume!!

      Azande - 2011-12-16 23:04

      @Moss, meaning???

  • Lynda - 2011-12-16 19:42

    Sorry no sympathy for either of them

  • Veli - 2011-12-16 19:46

    A consequences of our too lenient laws in South Africa , where nobody is ever accountable for anything. All you need is good connections and money for bribery , guarantee to you to get away with everything . Some people get fooled by thinking that they 'll get away with the same kind of behavior in other countries. I just like to commend the Chinese government by showing no nonsense attitude to people who want to harm their own people. How many South African who lost their future due to the drug scourge , and not much was done about it , we all know who are the biggest drug smugglers in the world , but nobody bother them in South Africa. Naigers (wink)

      Sterling - 2011-12-16 22:09

      I know you are going to say Nigerians but, they are not, the Chineses controlled ninety percent of all herion produced in the world. The people you see are street dealers and the real people you don't see.

  • Perfume5 - 2011-12-16 19:48

    Meanwhile, a friend of Nobanda's, Sulezi Rwanqa, 24, who went to Thailand on the same flight with her, said she was stuck in Bangkok......hmmmmmmmm and why did the friend not talk Nobanda out of it, or was the friend hoping to share in the spoils as well....

      Squeegee - 2011-12-16 20:03

      She delivered her load succesfully. Another mule.

      Perfume5 - 2011-12-16 20:09

      Hey Squeegee, I thought of the same thing, while the attention was on Nobanda, the second mule "friend" slipped through successfully.

  • barry.mcbride - 2011-12-16 19:53

    "SA drug mule's mom knew about a trip" LOL news24, but one doesn’t really "trip" on cocaine, rather an overly confident ‘high’, although this plane trip was quite high!

      Sean - 2011-12-17 05:15

      I am sure she coukd not have done her hair up on her own to try to conceal that amount of drugs, did mom assist - i mean imagine her going to a professional hai-dresser requesting this to be done!?

  • Grant - 2011-12-16 20:17

    What is a mystery to me is how she managed to pack 1.5 kg of cocaine in her dreadlocks. I'm ex customs and can assure you that a yong black woman travelling around the world would stick out like a dogs ball. I would have looked at the quality of her dress and suitcases. I bet she is going to be gat full of noodles before long:-)

      Walter - 2011-12-17 19:39

      Well, Grant, I think the story is like this: In Europe about 10 years ago (yes, I know we are not in Europe but this is relevant!), a lot of couriers got caught from Columbia. Turned out later that these couriers were SUPPOSED TO GET CAUGHT (they were inexperienced, first time travelers etc), while the 'professional couriers' successfully passed through customs/immigration. Maybe a similar situation with that young woman?

  • Perfume5 - 2011-12-16 21:12

    Thumbs down our comments all you like, for those who do not like the truth. HER FRIEND WAS THE SECOND MULE!!!!! I find it strange when the story broke a few days ago Nobanda was the only one mentioned, a few days later there is a friend. Two mules in Thailand the one gets caught, the other slips through successfully, case closed.

      Kate - 2011-12-17 07:33

      Agree with you Perfume. This "friend" must have been the decoy. Hope the Thai find her too. Let the Thai Government send a strong message out to these drug mules

  • Mantsho - 2011-12-16 21:12

    This people promised to die for Zuma, now they are doing just that.Zuma needs to create jobs for his people, this stories are embarrassing on the other hand.

      Azande - 2011-12-16 22:01

      Are you sure you commenting on a correct article?

      Ibhubesi - 2011-12-16 22:16

      No No No I'm not dying for Zuma. Not me little Zulu Boy! I will arrange a big party at the Voortrekker Monument. I will invite all the witch doctors and tell them to tell our ancestors to go reincarnate in Europe. They can then inherit all the stuff they are crying about everyday. Then I will get all the Dominees and they can pray for the Boere to reincarnate as Native Indians and go live in reservations in America. They wanted separate development, they should get it and America has that facility for people like that. Then I will turn the Voortrekker Monument into a night club and we can sakkie sakkie and jive and be one Big Happy Nation!

      Moss Mphahlele - 2011-12-16 22:16

      Atleast pretend to be having a brain cause you plain moron

      akaRags - 2011-12-17 02:03

      Lol, what are you smoking Ibhubesi? Hopefully it's just your socks and nothing worse..............

      Moss Mphahlele - 2011-12-17 07:05

      I alrdy checked in. Just waiting for airheads like you! When do you think you will join us in hell cause you dfntly not going to Heaven with such stupidity

      Lara - 2011-12-17 07:08

      Hahahaha! Ibhubesi, very funny. Sakkie, sakkie, sakkie, wie se kinders is dit die? Traak jou nie, want jy maak hulle nie. Our prez's anthem, by the way.

      Ibhubesi - 2011-12-17 10:00

      @Lara. I'm sure his kids wear name tags. And his PA has to keep a register and remind him when it is their birthdays!

      Tebatso - 2011-12-19 15:50

      how does zuma create job 4 student??

      Siphiwe - 2012-06-22 13:09

      Okay!!!, the topic is not about politics, please scroll back up and re-read again.

  • Anna - 2011-12-16 22:21

    mina my daughters can tell me that shes going to a place which i didnt finance,some other parents are using their kids to get money its awful look now their kids are in trouble and they want help from the gov and sympaty

  • maniza.ahoua - 2011-12-16 22:41

    now really confused, there is so much in this story then it is. i agree with some people here, the mother was supposed to ask how did you afford a holiday in brazil while you are a student. lies lies lies more lies

  • Susanna - 2011-12-16 22:57

    Never thought I would have to go to the Rio carnival and come back bald. Thanks Nobanda, the brazilian wax was wasted on you.

  • Pawel - 2011-12-16 23:04

    At least now she can attend the execution ...

  • Siso - 2011-12-16 23:30

    If Sulezi didn't do anything wrong, why is she prepared to hand herself in? It's seems that the mother's knew about these trip and the funny thing is that they never questioned their students daughters where did they get the money for vacation from and now they are pleading with the South African embassy for help, to hell with that. Just another way of wasting tax payers money...

  • miyo27 - 2011-12-17 04:04

    NO!. She should rot in jail in Thailand and face the consequences..She knew what she was doing was wrong, she deserves the punishment. SA should not intervene if she brought it upon herslef.

  • Timothy - 2011-12-17 05:37

    To get a better idea of day to day life inside a Thai prison check this and tell me you dont feel a bit of sympathy for her after youve finished reading it. I know what she did was stupid but you get something as basic human rights and no one deserves to live in such conditions for smuggling drugs, which i dont think is that serious because for every 1 caught 5 goes through and its peoples own choice if they wanna use drugs (if it was murder or rape I would have said fine) Im going to call the embassy next week to find out in which prison she is kept. Gonna try and visit her and get her some basic supplies as nothing is free inside a Thai prison you need to pay for everything from food to bathing rights. If you would like to send her messages of support and sympathy click my profile and inbox me your message. I will print it out and give it to her. I just hope she is kept in a prison in Bangkok so that I can reach her. Usually inmates are allowed three 20min visits per week.

      Peter - 2011-12-17 07:46

      Timothy what sort of a person are you, I guess you have no clue in life, do the crime do the time, execute all drugmules and dealers bring back the death penalty and empty all the gaols with mass executions in front of the masses to show that crime does not pay, you might get a few of our lovable politicans there as well////

      Johncarlos ? Biza - 2011-12-17 09:23

      Timothy, I don't give a damn about her for willingly participating in a serious crime. However, I commend your choice and would encourage you to not let others here change your values, like the comment above.

      rooibok1 - 2011-12-18 07:09

      She should have visited that web site on prison life in Thailand before doing the trip.

      sifiso.ginindza - 2011-12-18 12:25

      Thanks Tim,life for a young star is not easy,your support is greatly appreciated in times of need! Girl only strength from almighty can help ur sole and spirit!!!!! Sifiso Swaziland.

  • dstar76 - 2011-12-17 05:52

    The person is a criminal. stop reporting about these people. What is so interesting about a drug merchant....

      Ibhubesi - 2011-12-17 12:21

      I don't agree with you dstar76. We need to blow this up all we can. How else are we going to save other kids from becoming drug addicts?

  • Tshivhombela Fhatuwani - 2011-12-17 06:46

    The mother knew that her child is going to Brazil but she never asked further where did she get the money as she was said to be a student. On top of that, the mother was promised presents but she never asked where she would get the money from. Mothers usually know what their daughters are up to but they get spoiled to remain silent.

      Peter - 2011-12-17 07:41

      Send her mother to join her in gaol, she knew exactly what was going on, these lying bastards they will do anything to get illegal money, it does not matter if they use thier own children as they have more to fall back on the make them more money, they just use thier children for thier own gain

      Perfume5 - 2011-12-17 11:19

      My mother would of been pulling me by the ears asking me where did I get the money from to travel, especially if she knew I was a student, and did not have a job. Perhaps this is how these two mules supported their families. When the story broke the mother said she knew her daughter was in P.E. as the story is unfolding, the mother now confesses that her 23yr old tells her about the Brazil trip.

  • Emily-Jane Elson - 2011-12-17 09:11

    The Death Sentence IS quite harsh for Drug Smuggling BUT if thats how they work and those are their rules in Thailand, they have to be respected!

  • Americo - 2011-12-17 10:55

    Whats wrong with walking back home - ever heard of wholesome backpacking ??? OF COURSE NOT

  • Mbeko - 2011-12-17 11:13

    ...what is the meaning of 'handing yourself in" unless u've done something wrong...sounds like admission to me ! who must assist now...damnit our tax money is being wasted big we have to pay for drug mule(s)...

  • Shirley - 2011-12-17 11:29

    Lady realy you cant ask for the goverment and the world to come to your aide now!! Did you ever wonder where she suddenly got money for a holiday to Brazil????? After all you have said in previous interviews that you dont have money. This is bad parenting to a degree because even though your child no longer lives with you, you say the two of you were close so you knew her income! Red flags everywhere!She did the crime so she must do the time!!!!

  • Zanele - 2011-12-17 14:03

    Gracias Timothy Cotzee.

  • MakaNyawuzenkukhu - 2011-12-17 14:18

    yes on this topic again. pls South African youth be advised of overseas trips offered either for break or parttime jobs. Pls SA Home affairs consider scrutinising the youth more on applications of international passports. no rescrictions to be posed but for the public and youth benefit the government has to amend legislation on granting passports. secondly the invitation letter towards a visa has to be checked for its legitimacy by ringing the parents of the child,involving SA embassy officers in the county to be visited to investigate more the legitimacy of the visit. yes its hard work but it will reward, just remember one time when a certain individual in the USA invited myself to send 5 kids to study in USA. I made it clear that if kids would go there I would first visit their office and get all relevant documents as evidence of our agreement and the other end I never resisted to call SA embassy there to check and arrange a meeting with the individual to discuss the matter at my request.I thank those officers who worked tirelesly with me as the trueth was revealed. therefore please youth please be careful now.

  • jpowell.hb - 2011-12-17 15:00

    She did the crime and paid the price now let her RIP

  • Johan - 2011-12-17 15:28

    Can't afford to finish varsity, but can go on Brazil on a "holiday". That is nonsense. We all knew it is the mecca of drug trafficing.

  • Johnny - 2011-12-17 20:25

    Listening to 10CC's "Dreadlock Holiday" is never going to be the same again.

      Eugene - 2011-12-17 20:40

      Now I know how Peter Grant and Bob Marley got away with their good old habits.)

  • Cathy - 2011-12-18 07:49

    m just disappointed at the mother who initially said she was not aware her daughter had a passport.all of a sudden she called her from the airport to tell her she's going to brazil?can a mother's question be'why? only?

  • danie.malan - 2011-12-18 19:41

    No sympathy! Drugs are bad news.... no matter how you are involved: selling, trafficking, using or any other involvement. It is BAD, BAD news and NO sympathy!

  • imoukangwe - 2011-12-18 23:23

    OK , nolubabalo left SA to Brazil to take cocaine from Brazil and deliver it to Thailand , at that young how did she get connected to South american drug dealers ? and why do they target SA women ?

  • Sally - 2011-12-19 13:01

    Ao shame! the stranded one must have been the hair stylist, i bet in Brazil they don't know how to do that and she had to bring her along....she knew she was getting a big check for that hairdo.

  • millicentmnish - 2011-12-19 14:09


  • Siphiwe - 2012-06-22 13:45

    Sometimes in life we turn to proud ourselves when it come to judging other people, as a parent this story has sent a great fear in me, of what will I do if it was my child, clearly as much as we can try to protect our children, sometimes its never enough. Bad friends and choices can steal one life so fast. Lies or no lies, things like these happen so that we can learn and teach our kids, sisters or brothers not to my stupid choices in life. Never take proud in other people mistake, today its her tomorrow its ________, only God knows.

  • mpuse.tlou - 2012-06-24 00:30

    The holy spirit must come down so Africa can be saved,it is realy shocking what our young South African woman are doing \just for money\ The bible says \He who is without sin,must cast the first stone\ the moral here is \Only God can judge\ whether the mother knew about the trip,its bad enough she is going to pay for her sin!!!

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