'We feel lost' - SA wife's anguish

2015-01-22 13:23

Cape Town - A Johannesburg mother was left heartbroken on Thursday when she heard that her husband was sentenced to death by hanging in Malaysia after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

“We’re all speechless... we feel lost,” Angelique told News24 after hearing of the fate of her 29-year-old husband Deon Cornelius.

Cornelius was found guilty of smuggling 2kg of methamphetamine into Malaysia when he landed at Penang International Airport on 4 October 2013.

Angelique, told News24 of her anguish over the last one-and-a-half years as she has tried to understand why he took the package into the country.

Deon and Angelique in happier times. (Image via Angelique Cornelius)

“At first it wasn’t easy, I suffered from depression,” she said.

She said the family initially thought Cornelius would get a 10-year sentence under a deal with  Malaysian prosecutors but when his lawyer phoned her on Thursday morning to give her the news he had received a death sentence it felt as if a ton of bricks had hit her.

“It’s so sore...”

Angelique hasn’t yet told her daughter. “I don’t know how she will take it.” The child believes her dad is simply overseas and that he’ll be home soon.

Cornelius was sentenced under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which carries a mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

“He said he went to Durban to visit family and to look for a job and two weeks later I got a call to say he had been arrested in Malaysia,” said Angelique, choking back tears.

When Cornelius was arrested he didn’t say much to airport authorities but later during his interrogation, he claimed he had been sent by a man named Tony.

Deon Cornelius (Image via Angelique Cornelius)

He had asked Cornelius if he would like to travel the world, gave Cornelius $800, and put him on a plane to Singapore. When he arrived in Singapore, he was asked to transport a laptop bag to Malaysia. The drugs were in the laptop bag.

Even though she was completely unaware of the supposed meeting with Tony, “we talked about everything,” said Angelique.

She said the year before he was arrested was taxing for the couple as Cornelius had lost his job as a barman and just weeks before, his parents had moved to Lephalale [Ellisras] in Limpopo. His health deteriorated as he started smoking and drinking more.

“Deon and his mother are close, the whole family is actually very close.  Although everyone is spread out far and wide, they really have a very close bond,” said Angelique.

In one of his last letters to Angelique, Deon writes: Ï just want to say ‘sorry’ for all the things I have put you threw [sic].”
It is unclear when exactly Cornelius will be executed but Angelique said it could be years still.

Deon's last letter to Angelique and their daughter.

Angelique had a message to others in a similar situation: “Pray, there’s not much else you can do but pray and support [them].”

“Like I said to Deon, it’s not just him that’s suffering, it’s everyone around him.”

Cornelius seems to have accepted his fate and told his wife to move on.

At the end of one of his last letters, he writes: “Baby please look after yourself and [our daughter] and give her a hug & kiss from me my love [sic].”

Read more on:    malaysia  |  narcotics

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