Nolubabalo “Babsie” Nobanda, who was caught smuggling cocaine in her dreadlocks, will be released from prison in Thailand and sent home, Daily Dispatch reports.
Nobanda – who the media christened “Druglocks” – was arrested in Thailand in December 2011. She was caught at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok with 1.5kgs of cocaine, mixed with baking powder and styled into her dreadlocks.
She received a 30-year sentence which was reduced to 15 years due to her pleading guilty and cooperating.
While Nobanda benefited from the granting of amnesty to tens of thousands of prisoners following the coronation of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn on May 15, there are conflicting reports as to exactly what that meant.
While HeraldLive reported that her sentence was commuted by two and a half years, the Thai Examiner reports that she received a royal pardon, which would have paved the way for her return home.
Thai Examiner reported on June 7 that Nobanda was on the verge of returning home after the Home Affairs in Pretoria instructed the South African Embassy in Bangkok to issue her with a temporary visa.
She reportedly received help from a Belgian man, Henk Vanstaen, who has been helping South African women imprisoned in Bangkok for several years.
It was reported yesterday that Nobanda made a video which was screened at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, with the intention of raising awareness of how victims or human trafficking become drug mules.
There appeared to be no mention in her video as to the fact that she would be returning home.
“Many of you wonder why someone would get into this. There are many reasons . . . [one] that people don’t talk much about is that these are people who genuinely want to support their families and see their children get educated and graduate, but unfortunately they never reach their goal because they are sentenced in foreign countries,” she said.
“This is such a personal experience for me and I want to join hands with those that want to solve this drug problem in our society because this is not a problem that can be solved by one individual . . . it needs us to hold hands, for friendships to be formed and for the drug mules themselves to tell of their own experiences.”
Nobanda is the second drug smuggler to be released from Thailand in recent months. On June 22, it was reported that Nontando Pendu was back in South Africa after almost 11 years in prison.
Pendu was arrested in October 2008 at Suvarnabhumi Airport carrying 2kg of heroin wrapped around her waist and stuffed into her private parts.
She, like Nobanda, was pardoned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn.