Durban - Friends and neighbours of a former Durban policeman facing the death penalty for smuggling tik into Bali have described him as a “hard-core man” who has not fully grasped the harsh reality he’s facing.
Stephen Henri Lubbe could face the death penalty. He was caught carrying 1.5kg of methamphetamine shortly after landing at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali.
Lubbe’s friends who stayed with him in Geynor Court, Langalibalele (Winder) Street, this week said Lubbe, who has a policeman son in Joburg, was optimistic about returning back to Durban safe and sound.
“He’s a tough oke and he was laughing when we spoke to him over the phone about him facing the death penalty,” said one of his neighbours.
“He’s a sharp man that one. He’s been around and he knows how to worm his way out of a sticky situation.”
His friends said Lubbe, 62, is a retired officer who had made contacts with police authorities throughout the world.
“He had channels in every country, meaning he could go in and out without it being detected what he was carrying,” said his friend.
The friends said it was no secret that Lubbe was a drug smuggler.
“We knew that he was part of a drug-smuggling syndicate, which was run by a Nigerian guy.
“He used to travel all the time. He’s been all over the world, from Brazil to Turkey to China, and he would always come back with loads of money,” said his former roommate.
Before leaving for his last trip, the friends had warned him to ditch his dangerous activities after a run-in with one of the dealers.
“Before this trip, he had almost got caught in another airport, but he quickly ditched the stash before he was busted. He got into a huge argument with one of the dealers for leaving the stash and I told him he should stop because this guy would sell him out to the cops.
“But he laughed and said he would quit after this trip. He said this would be his last one.”
According to Indonesia’s official Antara news agency, Lubbe had disembarked from a flight from Hong Kong when he was caught.
“The officers spotted a suspicious item in Lubbe’s grey suitcase as it passed through the scanner,” states the article.
“The officers opened the suitcase and found a package of white crystal, which was tested and identified as methamphetamine.”
The agency said that Lubbe admitted to the officers that he had been compensated with a holiday to Bali by an unidentified person in return for carrying the drugs.
The Jakarta Post, also an English language newspaper, said that when Lubbe was arrested he “defended himself saying he did not know there were drugs in his suitcase”.
“Lubbe… said he was in Bali for a holiday. He claimed he had been paid with a holiday package on the island in return for delivering the suitcase,” the article said.
According to media reports, Lubbe breached article 113 of the country’s 2009 Narcotics Law by bringing drugs into Indonesia.
This means he could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Indonesia has some of the strictest anti-drug smuggling laws in the world.
According to a report by the International Drug Policy Consortium, Indonesia has “severe sanctions” for supplying drugs, including “imposing the death penalty for certain drug trafficking offences”.
Pictures from Lubbe’s arrest show him surrounded by Indonesian police and customs officials.
The exact state of the case against Lubbe is unclear is the moment.
Independent on Saturday