Joyous reunion in Thai prison
Convicted Grahamstown drug mule Nolubabalo "Babsie" Nobanda broke down in tears of joy when her mother visited her in a Thai prison last week.
Dubbed "Druglocks" after she was caught smuggling cocaine worth about R1.2-million in her dreadlocked hair at Bangkok's international airport in December, Nobanda was fined R250000 and jailed for 15 years.
Though admitting to smuggling 1.5kg of cocaine plaited into her fake dreadlocks, Nobanda claimed she was a victim of human trafficking. But an investigation tracked the syndicate she was involved with and located the Port Elizabeth house at which she had been recruited.
This week, Honjiswa Mbewu told of her daughter's joy and surprise when they were reunited during two visits at Klongprem Central Prison, where she and seven other South Africans are being held.
"She just cried when she saw me. It was very emotional. But it was really great to see her," Mbewu said, adding that her daughter had not been expecting her.
She said she was pleased at the amount of time she was given to spend with her daughter.
"I could see her for two sessions, each an hour long. She has made many friends there and even the prison authorities smiled when I showed them the letter of whom I was visiting.
"I was told that her behaviour is very good, so I think they like her. This helped me to see her for such a long time," Mbewu said.
"Physically and emotionally she is doing very well. She has made lots of friends there."
"She is friends with people of different nationalities, but she is also very good friends with the South Africans who are all supporting each other."
Mbewu said that Nobanda, who recently celebrated her 24th birthday in the prison, intended to continue her studies.
"She was studying for a BCom before all this happened. I understand she is being given assistance by people who support prisoners in Thailand.
"She will need assistance with materials and books, and I believe that she will be able to get it," Mbewu said.
She said the studying might help in getting her daughter's sentence reduced.
"There is a possibility that she could have her sentence reduced. Her good behaviour has been noticed, which will help.
"And if she demonstrates that she is improving her life through her studies, that can also help."