PRETORIA: A Bangkok court jailed South African Nolubabalo “Babsie” Nobanda for 15 years yesterday for smuggling cocaine in her dreadlocks.
International Relations spokesman 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 SA.
“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 R1.2 million) 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 yesterday, but her mother Honjiswa Mbewu confirmed on Sunday that the trip had been cancelled.
“I had to cancel my journey to that country 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.” – Sapa