Cape Town - A South African facing a 19-year jail term for trafficking tik (methamphetamine) into Indonesia has appealed to a court in Bali for a lenient sentence, given his age and his first-time offender status, Indonesian media reported.
Stephen Lubbe, from Durban, was arrested in early February at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport with 1.5kg of methamphetamine hidden in a compartment in his suitcase.
The 58-year-old had arrived on a flight from Hong Kong.
According to reports in the English language Jakarta Post, an Indonesian state prosecutor asked a panel of judges that Lubbe be sentenced to 19 years in jail.
Lubbe maintained that he was unaware of the contents of the bag.
“We ask the panel of judges to give a fair punishment to the defendant, as the defendant has conveyed his apologies to the Indonesian government and the Indonesian people for his wrongdoing,” his lawyer was quoted as saying.
“He was willing to accept the offer to bring the bag to Bali as he was eager to travel overseas without spending his own money, and to receive an allowance. But he never thought that he would face a heavy prison sentence in Indonesia.”
Under Indonesia’s strict drug trafficking laws, he could have faced the death penalty or life imprisonment.
He will learn his fate on August 4.
Lubbe has been visited by an official from the South African embassy in Jakarta. But South Africa has no prisoner transfer agreement with foreign countries, meaning those convicted of drug trafficking abroad have to serve their sentences in foreign jails.
Lubbe’s daughter, Tatum Hebst, previously told this newspaper’s sister title Sunday Tribune that Lubbe was promised a holiday in Bali by a friend who asked him to carry a suitcase for him in return.
“I don’t believe my father knew anything, or what was in that case,” she said.
According to Patricia Gerber, from the NGO Locked Up, a number of South Africans have been caught at Ngurah Rai International Airport attempting to smuggle drugs into Indonesia.
Relatively few make headlines in South Africa.
In 2012 Brett Savage, from Joburg, was sentenced to life in an Indonesian prison after trying to smuggle 3kg of methamphetamine into the country.
The same year, Kedibone Sheila Motshweneng was given a 15-year sentence, also for tik trafficking.
* Meanwhile, a 32-year-old South African woman, said to be from Middelburg and arrested last month for transporting heroin into New Zealand, has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in a Christchurch court on Thursday this week.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the woman’s name is Laura Elizabeth Cilliers.
She has been remanded for sentencing next month.