Nolubabalo Nobanda was convicted in Thailand and sent to prison for 15 years. File photo: Supplied.

Johannesburg - It was an emotional affair as convicted South African drug mule Nolubabalo “Babsie” Nobanda finally returned home.

Nobanda touched down at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday after having served seven years of a 15-year sentence for drug smuggling in Thailand. 

She was met by teary family members and friends who had all gathered at the airport to welcome her back home. 

A teary Nobanda, in a brief interview with the media, said it was good to be home and thanked South Africans for their support. 

"It hasn't been easy but my people have been behind me so I just want to thank my country for all their love, for all their support and for all their prayers. I'm back home and I'm back stronger," she told reporters. 

Nobanda, from Grahamstown, was arrested at Bangkok International Airport in December 2011 for allegedly attempting to smuggle 1.5kg of cocaine from Brazil to Thailand.

Officials spotted white residue on her hair when she arrived on a Qatar Airways flight. 

She was initially handed a 15-year jail term but this was reduced by two-and-a-half years in an amnesty granted to prisoners by Thailand's king, Timeslive reported earlier this year.

In August, a Dirco spokesperson confirmed to News24 that Nobanda would be released from prison by August 27. 

IOL