Brett Savage tried to smuggle almost 3kg of tik into Indonesia. Photo: AP

A South African was sentenced to life in prison this week after being arrested with R3.5 million worth of tik in Bali last year.

Brett Savage, 44, evaded the death penalty but will spend the rest of his life in jail in Bali.

His mother, Myra Savage from Townsview, Joburg, said on Wednesday night the family was still taking in the news, as they had been told to expect a lesser sentence. But she said they were devastated at the thought that they would never see him again, as they could not afford the airfare to Bali.

Savage was arrested on October 19 carrying just under 3kg of crystal methamphetamine (tik). Customs officials had reportedly noticed an unusual item in his luggage during a routine X-ray and found the drugs in a suitcase.

He is the second South African this month to be sentenced for drug trafficking in Bali. Last Monday, the Denpasar District Court sentenced 38-year-old Sheilla Motsweneng to 15 years in prison for trafficking 2.5kg of tik.

She was arrested days after Savage was at the Ngurah Rai International Airport.


Under Indonesian law both faced the death penalty.


Before he left for Bali, Savage was a restaurant manager at the Grand Central restaurant in Melrose Arch for a number of years.

Under Indonesian law, he will never be eligible for parole and this had been hard for his family in Joburg.

His mother said her only son did not do drugs or drink and she had been shocked when she had heard he had been arrested in Bali. She had not even known that he was going to Bali.

His children, a 15-year-old daughter and son, 12, are in the care of family members, who are battling financially, as they also have to send him money to live. Their mother lives in Britain.

“He gets nothing there, only two slices of bread and a banana a day. We have to send him money to live and to buy necessities like toiletries,” she said.

When asked if they would be appealing against the sentence, she said: “We are an average South African family and we cannot afford legal fees.”

She lambasted the SA government, saying they had received little support from it.

“They went to see him once, no one has been to his court case and the worst is that they did not even let us know that he had been sentenced,” Myra Savage said.

According to AsiaOne news, when handing down sentence, presiding judge IGAB Komang Wijaya Adhi said in the Denpasar District Court that the defendant was a member of an organised narcotics syndicate, which had a wide international network.

The verdict was heavier that the prosecutor’s demand for 17 years in jail plus a further two years’ imprisonment.

“The defendant has committed an unlawful act, which is against the government’s programme to eradicate drug trafficking in Indonesia,” the judge said.

The drugs Savage smuggled to Bali were meant to be handed over to an Indonesian woman, Sri Handajani.

She has already been sentenced to 10 years in jail. Handayani said that the drugs were to have been delivered to the Nigerian soccer player Osita Emmanuel Obumneme, who has also been sentenced to seven years in jail.


In March, Anneline Mouton, 37, a former IT clerk arrived back in Cape Town after spending seven years in prison in Mauritius.

She was arrested on drug smuggling charges in 2004 when police discovered 674g of heroin in her shoes. She was four months pregnant, but lost the baby in jail. When she flew in to Cape Town International she said she was sorry for what she had done and had paid every day for it. Her father, Dan Mouton, from Bellville had last seen his daughter a decade ago when she was 27.


Long stretch for 1 000 SA mules overseas

More than 1 000 South Africans are languishing in foreign jails after being caught trying to smuggle drugs.

Most of them are young people arrested in Brazil.

Two years ago, Patricia Gerber, from the NGO Locked Up Abroad, lost a high court battle to compel the SA government to sign prisoner exchange treaties with other countries. Her own son, Johan, has four years left to serve of an 11-year sentence for trying to smuggle drugs into Mauritius.

Recent SA drug mule cases include those of Alexander Krebs, Nolubabalo Nobanda and Janice Linden.

After 18 years in a Thai prison, Alexander “Shani” Krebs, came home earlier this month.

Krebs, 52, of Joburg arrived at OR Tambo International Airport to a lively reception from supporters wearing “Welcome home, Shani” T-shirts. The first thing he did when he got home was to take a hot bath – his first in 18 years.

He also slept in a bed, on a mattress, for the first since his arrest.

Krebs, who was 34 when he was caught, was arrested on April 26, 1994, after being bust with 1.2kg of heroin at Bangkok’s international airport.

Nolubabalo “Babsie” Nobanda, 23, was arrested on December 12 after being caught with cocaine allegedly woven into her fake dreadlocks. She was remanded in custody and will appear again next month.

Her family raised funds to send her advocate uncle, Ntsiki Sandi, to Thailand to represent her in court.

Thai custom officials said they had found about 1.5kg of cocaine in her dreadlocks after she got off a Qatar Airways flight at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The last words Janice Linden said to her sisters, Nomalizwi Mhlophe and Priscilla Mthalane, were: “You must come and see me soon.”

That was the day before she was executed by lethal injection after being arrested three years ago at Baiyun International Airport in China. Authorities had found 3kg of tik (crystal methamphetamine) in her luggage.

Cape Argus