But Many other South Africans languish in foreign jails
A 34-year-old woman from Kwazulu Natal, Tessa Beetge who was arrested for drug trafficking in June 2008 has been released on parole last week after spending five-and-a-half years behind bars. Tessa was sentenced to 12 years in Brazilian prison after she was caught with 10kg of cocaine in her luggage at Sao Paulo Airport. Tessa was recruited by the convicted drug dealer and former State Security Minister’s wife Sheryl Cwele with Nigerian drug dealer Frank Nabolisa. They promised her “work” in London, where she would get free accommodation, clothes and about R11 000 per week.
Being in a country, where unemployment is a challenge to a lot of people-young and old, an offer to work abroad and make a lot of money can seem like a great opportunity that could change your life for the better. Drug dealers target vulnerable, unemployed and desperate people to transport drugs for them and these people are known as ‘drug mules’. Mules carry drugs in their luggage, shoe sole, their stomach, sometimes strapped into their bodies and in any way they think will help them dodge the authorities . Even pregnant women are being used as mules. In recent years, high numbers of South African women and men have been making headlines; getting arrested in foreign countries for drug trafficking.
Tessa is not the first and probably not the last South African to be locked out in foreign prison for drug trafficking. Chances of getting caught while smuggling drugs are very high and the risk of being locked for life in a foreign prison doesn’t seem to scare people off as the number of drug mules who get arrested is increasing daily. Some countries carry death penalty, long jail sentences and the prison conditions are really bad and harsh. When locked in foreign prison you lose all your rights and being a first time offender does not mean anything to the authorities.
Remember Janice Bronwyn Linden? Nolubabalo Nobanda? Let me remind you, Janice was a 35-year-old woman from Durban, who was caught with 3kg of crystal methamphetamine in her luggage at Baiyun International Airport in 2008. She was later executed in 2011 by lethal injection. Nolubabalo is a young woman from Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape who was 23 years old, when she got arrested at Bangkok’s International Airport in 2011. She had 1,5 kg of cocaine hidden in her dreadlocks and was sentenced to 15 years in a Thailand prison.
Drug traffickers are ordinary people, they don’t have a certain look, and it can be your friend, mom, sister, dad or brother. Some people may argue and say drug traffickers do not deserve sympathy, what about their families? And those who find themselves trapped and tricked into trafficking drugs? People are lured into drug trafficking through social networks and good job offers that promise a good life. When seeing that job offer which promises that everything will be catered for, that raises a red flag, run for your life. Life is not about taking short cuts and making a quick buck in a short time. Although it can be very tempting that money won’t be of any good when you are locked up in a in prison away from your family with no freedom. As the country there should be education programmes on dangers of drug trafficking as a large number of South African are filling foreign jails.
Sources: news24, iol, city press, sabc, ewn