Drug mule’s mom thought she was headed to Brazil

Drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda’s mother knew her daughter was leaving the country but thought she was headed for Brazil, she said on Friday.

“Yes … Nobanda did phone me saying she was at Cape Town International Airport and was due to board a plane to Brazil. When I asked why, she said she was just going for vacation”, her mother Honjiswa Mcepu said from her Grahamstown home.

According to Mcepu, Nobanda called her two days after her departure, saying she was safe in Brazil.

“She asked me what she should buy for me, and I said ‘anything’.”

During the conversation, Nobanda indicated she was to return home in the week after December 10.

‘Knew she was overseas’
“To me, she did not say anything about Bangkok. I knew nothing of that, but I knew she was overseas”. Mcepu said.

Nobanda was arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday after getting off a Qatar Airways flight. Police said they noticed a white substance in her hair. They found 1.5kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of R1.2-million in her dreadlocks. She admitted to authorities she smuggled the drugs and said she was hired to deliver the cocaine to a customer at a hotel in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, a friend of Nobanda’s, Sulezi Rwanqa (24), who went to Thailand on the same flight with her, said she was stuck in Bangkok.

Rwanqa’s family said they received at least three calls from her this week indicating she was in the Thai capital and asked them to call for help.

“We did not know what to do, because at some point on Wednesday she said she may make a plan to get home, but today [December 16] she called saying she is still stranded”, her mother Noskuta Rwanqa said from the family’s home in Tantyi location, Grahamstown.

The family received another call on Friday from Bangkok, indicating she was running out of food and money and wanted to come home. Rwanqa gave her cellphone to Nobanda shortly before she was arrested, and was now using a payphone to call home.

According to Rwanqa’s sister Lamla, her visa would expire at the end of the week.

“She told us that she was in Bangkok and she was stranded with nowhere to go and was watching Nobanda’s arrest on TV.”

The family pleaded with the South African embassy in Thailand to help.

“She is prepared to hand herself in, as long as she comes back to South Africa”, Rwanqa’s mother said.

“I do not know what to think now. I know my daughter is in foreign country, but how she is doing, I do not know. Can you assist?” — Sapa

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