SA embassy 'dragging heels' over drug mule

2011-12-14 22:45

Grahamstown - Alleged drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda called her uncle, Mthetheli Mbewu, just after she was caught with drugs at Thailand's Bangkok airport on Monday.

"After she told me she had been arrested, someone took the phone and hung up," Mbewu said on Wednesday.

He said he heard a foreign language spoken in the background. He believes it might have been Bangkok police.

Mbewu said he went to her parents, who at first didn't believe him. They thought Nobanda had just been joking.
But when her father did an internet search of his daughter's name, he was shocked by pictures showing cocaine being removed from her dreadlocks.

The 23-year-old was arrested after police noticed a white substance in her hair after she stepped off a Qatar Airways flight. Police found 1.5kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of $150 000 (R1.2m) hidden in her dreadlocks.

She admitted to smuggling the drug and said she was hired to deliver it to a customer at a Bangkok hotel.

SA embassy

Mbewu said the family had been relying on media reports to stay informed about Nobanda's whereabouts, as they wait for the South African embassy to help.

Mbewu believed she may have been forced to smuggle the drugs.

"She does not need anything. She was fine the last two weeks. Someone is behind this," he said.

News of Nobanda's arrest had been kept a secret from her grandmother, who suffers from diabetes, until she kept hearing her granddaughter's name on the radio. A family member said she thought maybe her granddaughter had made some academic achievement.

The family broke the news to her late on Tuesday night. She took it badly, Mbewu said.

Nobanda's mother, Wanjiswa Ncepu said she had not been sleeping for days and was afraid of leaving her house because people were asking questions.

'I want my life back'

"All eyes in this location are on us, and I am even afraid to walk outside. I am told that detainees in prisons where Nolubabalo is are not supplied with food; they have to buy. So how can I continue to eat while I do not know where my child is?"

Ncepu said she wished she could have her daughter back in the country.

"I really do not deserve this in my life. I want my life, my daughter's life back."

A prayer meeting was expected to be held at the family's home on Wednesday night by neighbours showing their support.

South African ambassador to Thailand Douglas Gibson confirmed to the family he would meet Nobanda on Thursday at a prison in Bangkok.

  • Ibhubesi - 2011-12-14 23:12

    Are News24 turning this into another tear jerker or are we going to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves are we becoming the drug capitol of the world? I don't fly SAA because I don't know if one of the hostesses will be carrying drugs. At what point will we all be searched for drugs wherever we arrive at a foreign destination? Innocent school kids have died because scumbags are running wild, driving around drugged and then we allow them to waste tax payers money making a mockery of our judicial system for years? Something is very wrong here!

      Shoe - 2011-12-15 04:17

      We live in a fallen world Bhubesi. While angry at Nolubabalo for not standing up to what she knew was right and refuse to be recruited to traffick drugs, we are engulfed in overwhelming sadness for her family. And I think its okay to embrace both streams of emotions.

      Daniel - 2011-12-15 08:51

      Very well put Ibhubesi. As taxpaying, law abiding citizens, we owe these people absolutely nothing, if she had suceeded in her deed, we would have been none the wiser, why then spend our money to assist her? You'e on your own sister !!

      Bardy - 2011-12-15 09:31

      Give her the needle!!!!

      OSSY24 - 2011-12-15 09:48


      Marc - 2011-12-15 10:02

      - bardy - you are an idiot, i hope you get put down by the needle one day for being dumb as dirt and harming the world around you with your ignorance. drugs will always be here there and everywhere, no matter how illegal they are and how many death penalties are handed out. the higher the risk the higher the profits.naiive people think the death penalty will change things in society, but you change things with rehabilitation and empathy, changing at the root causes - not with fascism and long as there is a market for drugs, there will be drug dealers - supply and demand. you change this at the root of the problem, namely the huge profits corrupt politicians and drug lords make from drugs as long as they are illegal. the world is profit driven and no laws or harsh judgements will ever sway that corruption. murdering naiive girls like this one changes nothing , its just cruel. you can kill all of them - the fact remains, if you dont teach your kid right, its your fault if they become a drug addict, not some poor black girl trying to make a measly 16 grand. idiots

      Gary - 2011-12-15 10:30

      Well said..........we need to look at the bigger picture here, not the people at the end of the tenticles.

      John - 2011-12-15 10:44

      I agree with you. My beef with this article above is they are trying to accuse the SA Embassy of dragging their heels. Utter bullsh-t!!! Douglas Gibson (the Ambassador) who I know personally from meeting him several times at the Embassy in Bangkok, can only get to see the accused when the Police authorities allow him to. He can't just go down there and demand to see her, Ambassador or not! Trust me when I say, he will do everything in his power to help her. You must also understand they the Customs guys are chuffed at the arrest, they have proved to their superiors that they are worth their salaries.

      Bardy - 2011-12-15 11:28

      Needle! Needle! Needle! Needle!

      RSole - 2011-12-15 11:47

      As the saying goes "You play with Sh!& your hands will stink"

  • mystae - 2011-12-14 23:41

    Why is no one focusing on the people who contracted her, or those she would have met at her destination? Drugs kill a lot of people, it ruins lives - I've seen it first hand. But suddenly blasting a mule is callous; I think it's very seldom that anyone wakes up and think, "Ah, today looks like a fine day to smuggle drugs." From what I've heard and read, dealers or distributors of drugs target their mules very carefully and usually give them no choice.

      rowen.loretz - 2011-12-15 00:00

      because she is the mule...she is the one in can deal drugs in South Africa ( no harsh sentences is the law of the jungle in south africa ), not there.

      akaRags - 2011-12-15 00:15

      Still, she was obviously involved with people she shouldn't have been, and if she had stronger principles/morals she would have refused or could have gone to the police - she will have to pay the price, she did what she did, as a varsity student she should have been intelligent enough to know how harsh many Asian countries are when it comes to drug smuggling, and the fact of the matter is she is not getting off lightly, no matter who else she blames.

      Philile - 2011-12-15 07:23

      Mystae, yes you're correct, drug dealers have a way to persuade or lure their victims I called them victims 'cause sometimes these drug dealers they brain wash them somehow, so they don't just act on their own will. I'ts easy to blame someone without knowing the full story. she does not resemble any signs that mules have, look at her nails they are not even done, her hair before dreads that shows that she's not even into things. Drug mules they look so stunning when it comes to their appearance why 'cause when a person looks at a beautiful lady what do you do you admire looks and you don't even think of her as a drug transporter so they get away sometimes not searched at all they usually get away.

      PB - 2011-12-15 08:07

      GREED - plain and simple. That is why most people get involved in crime. Everyone smuggling drugs deserve to be killed, because that is what they are doing to the kids who gets hooked on the drugs they are involved in. Smuggling drugs into countries where EVERYONE KNOWS that the death sentence is applicable, is just dof. If you play with fire and you get burnt, don't try and get the rest of the world to feel sorry for you - because you have earned to get whacked then.

      Daan - 2011-12-15 10:09

      Fully agree with you. I am a firm believer that Governments must concentrate on eliminating the supply, to cure the addiction.

  • Tshepo Mpebe - 2011-12-14 23:43

    Dont see why the government must help her. Waste of our resources.

      Blip - 2011-12-15 03:31

      It's their job.

      Deeteem - 2011-12-15 05:05

      @Blip - It is their job to govern the country not to nanny it's stupid, lazy, corrupt citizens !!

      Ian - 2011-12-15 05:56

      @Deeteem BUT THE GOVERNMENT IS FULL OF STUPID, LAZY, CORRUPT CITIZENS :( BUT, fair point. Its not the job of the government to look after criminals. Its their job (partly) to hunt them down and prosecute them.

      Squeegee - 2011-12-15 06:20

      Blip, then they are doing really well. They are constantly protecting criminals from prosecution. They also seem to be involved in the drug trade. Perhaps she worked for one of our ministers (or their families)

      MicTee - 2011-12-15 09:39

      @ it their job to waste our hard earned tax money?? to a person who was going to kill other ppl maybe children for that matter...Drugs kills...feel pity for the family but I dont see why the government should be involved..."As Bantu Biko wud say Black man you on your own"......

      Gary - 2011-12-15 10:35

      It's not the governments job to get her off, consular support is in place to insure that she is okay and that her basic human rights are being addressed. Foreign governments do not interfere with a way a country does things. All of this should cost the tax payer nothing extra as consular service officers do this as a part of their job in a foreign country.

  • akaRags - 2011-12-15 00:01

    Forced or not, or whether or not someone else Was behind it, she was obviously involved in things she shouldn't have been, at the end of the day she had a choice and she made the wrong one, she took the risk, she got caught, and now she has to take responsibility for what she did and they have very little mercy in some of those Asian countries, as we well know. While the SA embassy should assist where they can and in what capacity they can, she broke another country's laws and for that she will noT get off lightly and rightly so esp as drugs are involved, not biltong.

  • Morne - 2011-12-15 00:08

    The truth is......... If you wanne deal with the sh@t you must live with it also. Sad but true. I feel for the family. I so hope people will watch the movie "Dadah is death" before they decide to trade in the stuff. Sorry, the laws of that country is the laws of that country. Sy het geweet waarin sy haarself inlaat.

  • Gilad - 2011-12-15 00:37

    The Chinese made me sick the way they executed the other girl recently. The Thais hopefully will have more compassion. The whole situation makes my heart bleed.

      Azurite - 2011-12-15 05:15

      If she pleads guilty she will be spared being executed, but will get a life sentence in prison.

      Julie.Rigby61 - 2011-12-15 08:18

      and Gilad, would you feel any different if the drugs smuggled killed your child? The fact that she was a mule smuggling 1.5kg cocaine into a country where they do not, and should not, show compassion. It's a dammed shame South Africa do not treat all drug dealers in the same manner.

      PB - 2011-12-15 08:51

      Compassion my ass. She, and all the thousands of other drug mules/pushers/whatever f up thousands of families with the crap they make millions out of. You want to do the crime, you better take the punishment.

      Mildly_Amused - 2011-12-15 10:56

      Its a sad situation, but unfortunately, if you go to another country, you abide by their laws. If someone had to come into South Africa and stone a woman to death, would you not be screaming for justice? Would his actions be excusable if it was tolerated in his country? The Chinese had every right to execute her. They have every right to uphold their law.

  • watson.tshililo - 2011-12-15 00:53

    Munzanzi,what is happening?

      Hildah - 2011-12-15 08:33

      chililo i dont know, but i think is just becoz munzanzi is too much freedom.

  • Joseph - 2011-12-15 02:38

    Parental guidance is lacking in the country we value more on their rights than the responsibilities which they must adare to.If we realy love our children we should tell them or reprimand them if they go astray thats being a parent.Nolubabalo is or was a University Student how did she manage to leave the country without parents` approval.Her parents allowed her to leave for a foreign country without anyone or relative in that land.They faild to tell her that it was wrong to travell to a foreign land without any business or relative there because they feared that she might be angry.She is now paying the price of her so called independant rights without responsibility.

      Daan - 2011-12-15 10:15

      There is a lot more lacking than only parental guidance in this country. Leadership, from top to bottom for starters!

  • Pawel - 2011-12-15 04:17

    A bit of hanging is in order here... he is not in sa where anything and everything goes as long as you contribute to some police officer.. there you hang for your crimes... good message...

  • Shoe - 2011-12-15 04:25

    Even though she made the decision to accept the offer to traffic the drugs, and fully participated in the scheme, I still see Nolubabalo as a victim of hardened male criminals who target vulnerable naive young females for recruitment into risky criminal activity with extreme consequences. I totally empathize with women who are single, looking for money, and are emotionally vulnerable. Hide your sisters, hide your wives, hide your EXs, hide your cousins, hide your daughters, hide mothers, hide your aunts, hide your grandmothers.....they are targeted!!!!

      Garysyd705 - 2011-12-15 05:10

      She a gron up the lots ove ways for hear to making money she was siting on gold mine!

  • nkadimeng - 2011-12-15 04:42

    She is a drug dealer, got no mercy on her, SA does not need ppl like her. At such a young age and already showing a disregard for human life

  • Hazel - 2011-12-15 04:43

    I cant understand all this hype.....she knew exactly what she was doing. Why should she expect help now?

  • Azurite - 2011-12-15 05:12

    There is no cure for stupidity. Rot in jail.

  • magnus.ukpong - 2011-12-15 05:36

    In all forms, crime does not pay.

  • Kabelo Marilyn Malele - 2011-12-15 05:49

    Havnt tried,seen or touched drugs nor had close frndz &family dt deal or take i knw they a 24yr daughter 2a loving dad,i undetstand why her family is trying 2get the gov 2help.*may God comfort her &hr family,&4gv me 4judging her @first

  • Kabelo Marilyn Malele - 2011-12-15 05:49

    Havnt tried,seen or touched drugs nor had close frndz &family dt deal or take i knw they a 24yr daughter 2a loving dad,i undetstand why her family is trying 2get the gov 2help.*may God comfort her &hr family,&4gv me 4judging her @first

  • Roy - 2011-12-15 05:51

    She is GUILTY. Give her an injection like they did in China to that drug mule then we will have one less drug mule to worry about. These people plead innocence when caught and are always blaming others for "using" them. Get rid of her/them when they deal in drugs.

  • Charlie - 2011-12-15 05:56

    well Mr mbewu,your niece brought this by her greed for money,now she gonna spend her life in a bangkok jail,the sooner you accept this the better.Think about those young lives that were gonna be destroyed by that coke.

  • Ian - 2011-12-15 05:59

    "...She admitted to smuggling the drug and said she was hired to deliver..." <--- HIRED, i.e that means she CHOSE to do this, she wasn't forced or coerced into it, it was her CHOICE. She's probably in it for the money, took a gamble and it didn't pay off. GOOD JOB THAILAND!!

  • Dumisani - 2011-12-15 06:13

    this is how i see it. if this person was a diplomat or photographer (etc) who landed in jail in another country, then the gov would hav an obligation to intervien and get them out (and communicate with the family). but i the case of someone committing a crime, on purpose, then screw them, u knew the risk and you still did it.

      acsteyn - 2011-12-15 11:49

      Spot on

  • cheldon.botes - 2011-12-15 06:16

    She will get the death sentence!

      Perfume - 2011-12-15 10:15

      She missed the "death sentence", her admission of guilt saved her, she might serve life in prison in Thailand.

  • mario - 2011-12-15 06:20

    sad.very sad.

  • gembleton1 - 2011-12-15 06:35

    I feel for the family not for her, it must have taken hours to get that stuff in her hair and if she was held down to do it, she could have told the people on the plane as it left the ground, No sympathy for her, there is no place for people like her in society, may she rot in jail.

  • Bennie - 2011-12-15 06:37

    Ask the DA to wire here some money, seems that they now support criminals rights.... hell, they support criminals. But they will talk politics around it, because that’s what matters. Not the victims rights, but criminal rights!

  • mario - 2011-12-15 06:41

    what did she tell her parent before going to Brazil? that she is going for a holiday, for a visit, for busnness or what? did they knew that she is out of the country at all? and if they didn't, how come?!

  • lisa.evansdominick - 2011-12-15 06:52

    Do this family expect their darling daughter who knew what she was doing to be treated like royalty in prison. Life is going to be tough but she knew the score... Feel for the family

  • Tshivhombela Fhatuwani - 2011-12-15 06:54

    She is an adult and should be responsible held responsible for whatever she was caught doing. Spare us of this mud slinging, please. If you think the Dept. of ITR will save her, you are dreaming. She left to Thailand undercover and the king pin in Hillbrow is the one that you should hear from. Girls always think they know what they are getting into and only to find out later that they don't know. This issue is not of national interest, it is of family interest and no national energy should be spent on when there is corruption to deal with internally. Girls, you can sleep with drug lords in exchange of cash but don't follow the source of their money because you will end up in this situation and you will never hear from him.

  • Tshivhombela Fhatuwani - 2011-12-15 06:55

    She is an adult and should be responsible held responsible for whatever she was caught doing. Spare us of this mud slinging, please. If you think the Dept. of ITR will save her, you are dreaming. She left to Thailand undercover and the king pin in Hillbrow is the one that you should hear from. Girls always think they know what they are getting into and only to find out later that they don't know. This issue is not of national interest, it is of family interest and no national energy should be spent on when there is corruption to deal with internally. Girls, you can sleep with drug lords in exchange of cash but don't follow the source of their money because you will end up in this situation and you will never hear from him.

  • Ian - 2011-12-15 06:58

    1.5 kgs, get ready for the big drop

  • Charmaine - 2011-12-15 07:07

    This is God at WORK, many of us here in South Africa are fighting for these drug mules and lords to be banished from our communities. The Government Officials were doing nothing, as Drug Lords were paying the Magistrates etc, and getting their Mules /runners out of prison. Will she also get the death penalty? Many of us have been writing and openly protesting our concerns and wanted the drugs out of our schools and streets. The police, were only arresting school children for small amounts of Dagga and the real drugs lords were getting away. It is time today 2011, for all of us to stand in Unity and air our views clearly and publicly and the Government of this World must take heed. Fearlessly, we have to speak out, both men, women and children. This is what God wants us to do, because we march and write and protest against crimes, not to get rewards from human beings, we do it for the "Cause Of God" Lets us not dispute but do what we can to ensure a peaceful life for our future generation of human beings still to come and our children,both young and old, who are still alive today. God will reward us. Let us pray and pass on the message to our loved ones, We Care. Do the crime, pay the price, there is no time for being generous and kind to towards these drug lords and mules and runners. South Africa always in the "Crime Limelight"

      Arthur - 2011-12-15 07:35

      Get off the god wagon!Where is god when innocent kids are burnt, raped, tortured. Don't claim credit for him when something good happens, like the arrest of drug mules, and say 'it is his plan' when something awful happens.

      John - 2011-12-15 10:30

      Charmaine, as to your question, "will she get the death penalty" I doubt it because A: heroin is classified as a class B drug here and smuggling it only carries a max of life. But believe me life in a Thai Prison, you would welcome the needle instead. B: The last time that i am aware of that someone(foreigner) was executed here for drug related crime was in 2006. They put higher emphasis on Crystal Meth. Thai's get executed regularly for that. And they weren't smuggling 1.5kg either. A few hundred grams gets you injected.

  • mmakgaboe - 2011-12-15 07:11

    Trust them to shift the blame on someone else... sad for the family but they must just acknowledge that their daughter was out of line and got herself into this mess.

  • Mike - 2011-12-15 07:16

    You take drugs, you deserve what comes to you. She could have made plans with someone or the police if she was forced to do such a thing. she knew exactly what she was doing. she was just to stupid to do the job properly like the other 49mil

  • - 2011-12-15 07:30

    Its a devastating situation for her family and I really do feel for them, especially at a time of the year when everyone should be happy. HOWEVER, we dont need drug smugglers, merchants, mules, or anything of that kind in society. Its destroying people's lives, families, marriages, friendships and relationships. Even if she was forced, she still had a choice. And this was a bad choice. Surely she had to know what the consequences would be if she got caught. I know that she's small fry compared to the actual drug lords but every bit helps. In a perfect world all drug manufacturers, merchants and distributors should be wiped from this earth. But the world is not perfect, so this will have to do for now. I just hope she reveals who hired her.

  • erick.letshwene - 2011-12-15 07:32

    What must the embassy do, she was caught braking the law.

  • msturmair - 2011-12-15 07:34

    shows law oveseas is law, people are not dumb when they committ a crime, they need to service punishment given, sa people are truly stupid, look how many are being caught with this type of crime, may this be a lesson to sa people who want to make a quick buck......truly sad they they go and do stupid things like this and their families and friends suffering.....south africa has lots to learn - law in sa has walked out back door and crime has walked in front door.....crime rules in sa.....

  • raymond.kok3 - 2011-12-15 07:37


  • Gregory Jurgens - 2011-12-15 07:41

    You reap what you sow.

  • Gary - 2011-12-15 07:44


  • Julie.Rigby61 - 2011-12-15 07:47

    While I feel terribly sorry for her distraught family for what they are going through, it is much the same as an addicts family goes through. At least she will be fed, they know where she is, has a roof over her head (albeit not a very nice one) and... is alive. How many lives could have been lost with 1.5kg cocaine? Now the law in Thailand must run its course. South African government should not get involved.

      Trevor - 2011-12-15 09:24

      not too many people ODing on coke, Jules. But this could push up drug prices and spark drug wars. so hard to tell what the impact will be

  • neo.mogashoa - 2011-12-15 07:50

    I think they want to jeapaties SA, I really wonder didn’t they, people who matted the drugs into her hair check if there are no sign that could lead into her arrest? I thinks this was plant and aimed to jeapaties SA. clearly when you plan something stupit you do some checks and cover up? why was she cought that easy. you can be stupit when planning for this kind of business. something is not right here!

      Ovie - 2011-12-15 08:41

      Geez. Get a spellchecker. Not everything in life is a conspiracy theory.

      Arthur - 2011-12-15 12:59

      Ovie, whatever Neo's home language is, I take it you are fluent, yes?

  • Frederik - 2011-12-15 07:51

    People die from using drugs, why should the embassy be involved, she chose her path herself.

  • Fenderbender - 2011-12-15 07:53

    With all respect what did she think, drug dealing in Thailand ! They have been executing people for that crime for forever.

  • Brendan - 2011-12-15 08:02

    Do the crime - do the time - you cannot expect sympathy only after being caught.

      okekae - 2011-12-15 08:23

      i agree with Brendan,as for mike who commented "KILL DA BITCH"that is totally uncalled 4.we are all sinners we all have our flaws.It's not our place to play God & decide who should live & who should die!Yes,it was wrong of her to do what she did but if God can forgive her y can't we.i personally believe that God would deal with her in his own time & besides killing her would only do more harm than good there are rapists that rapes our elderly ppl & babies that's still alive.I am a God fearing woman i believe that u should not judge anyone unless u have walked in their shoes.let her suffer da conciquinces,go to jail or what ever da case may b but to kill her does'nt make you better than just shows how cruel you r we can't teach our children to love wen we killing,practice what you preach.According to me ppl who kill oter ppl do not deserve to live but than again being da person that i am it's GOD's will & not our's.

  • Denice - 2011-12-15 08:06

    WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THIS WORLD? THE CRIMINALS DEMAND JUSTICE? come on people, only in b.... africa s**t like this happens. let them pay for their crimes. No remorse. same for Shaik and Celebe, let them all die

  • Makgoana - 2011-12-15 08:06

    she got so hooked and turn into some robot, needed more of snow low on cash got an offer to courrier, snif snif a rail to calm the nerves, wear some truck tyre on her head full of white powder from hell, touch down Bangkok air port, boom boom a puncture and the skies turned white. You are so caught little girl, wish it be a lesson to others.

  • ethienne.julian - 2011-12-15 08:09

    Execute all drug mules and dealers!!!

      Trevor - 2011-12-15 09:18

      and users (i.e. the "innocent children") too?

  • Sharon - 2011-12-15 08:13

    I feel for the family...........but how was she "forced" into this obviously took hours to braid the drugs into her hair. She has to do the time, she did the crime

  • Eric - 2011-12-15 08:17

    NEW24 you make a big issue that the South African embassy has not been in touch according to her uncle. Do you think there are people sitting around waiting to go talk to various governments because of Some South Africans criminal activities. The embassies have more important issues like dealing with South African issues that are not criminal. She can be kept right where she is. You do the crime you do the time

  • allen.visser - 2011-12-15 08:17

    This reprobate peddles drugs that only ruins lives. Nothing good comes from the drug trade. She knew the risks and thought she was clever enough to beat the system. 1.5kg of coke can ruin alot of lives. Execute the degenerate. Being an SA citizen doesnt put her above the law. Rather her demise than some parents innocent children being exposed to this crap on the streets. I have no sympathy for her. All the other SA drug mule wanna-be's better start taking notice. Only in SA do you get away with a bribe. Nowhere else. I hope the potassium chloride burns...

      Trevor - 2011-12-15 09:15

      TBH not many innocent children taking cocaine. Its more of a yuppie drug.

  • Afrikopite - 2011-12-15 08:18

    Its easy to be a "celebrity" right, dah.