South African Janice Bronwyn Linden, convicted of smuggling drugs into China, was executed there on Monday morning, despite a bid by President Zuma to intervene.
“He [Zuma] did intervene. All the necessary interventions were done at every possible level, even the highest ones,” said the spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Clayson Monyela.
“Everything had to happen through diplomatic processes and there is very little that can be done around that.”
Linden was arrested in November 2008 after being found to be in possession of 3kg of methamphetamines on her arrival at the airport in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
In July 2009 the 37-year-old woman from KwaZulu-Natal was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death. Linden appealed in vain to the both the Guangdong High Court and to the Supreme Court in Beijing.
According to e.News, Linden’s execution was carried out early on Monday morning.
Monyela said members of Linden’s family were present for the execution.
One of Linden’s relatives told the Mercury newspaper: “We communicated with letters. She said she didn’t know how the drugs got into her luggage. She thought she was being framed,” he said.
“Her sentence is not justified. How can you take a person’s life for three kilograms of methamphetamine?”
Chinese officials would cremate her body and return her ashes to the family, Monyela said.
An e.News correspondent in Asia said her execution could have been commuted to a life sentence if Linden had confessed to the smuggling, but she had maintained her innocence.
Monyela said the execution would also not affect South Africa’s trade relationship with China, he said.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama cancelled an intended trip to South Africa to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday on October 7 after not receiving a visa on time.
Earlier this month home affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni said South Africa’s BRICS membership, and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s recent visit to China were all taken into account when deciding whether to grant the visa. — Sapa