Chiangrai Times – A Bangkok court jailed South African Nolubabalo “Babsie” Nobanda for 15 years on Monday for smuggling cocaine in her dreadlocks.
Nobanda, 23, from Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape, was arrested at the Bangkok International Airport in December for trying to smuggle cocaine from Brazil to Thailand.
“Initially, she was given a 30-year sentence but that term was reduced because she was co-operative with the authorities. They reduced the jail sentence by half,” said Monyela.
International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said Nobanda was also fined Bt 900,000
He said the department was in contact with Nobanda’s family in South Africa.
An Embassy Spokesperson said “Yes, we are always in contact with them. Through our embassy in Thailand we will continue to visit her and give her necessary support,” he said.
Nobanda, from Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape, was arrested at the Bangkok International Airport in December for trying to smuggle cocaine from Brazil to Thailand.
Police found 1.5kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of $150 000 (about R1.2m) in her dreadlocks.
She admitted to smuggling the drugs and said she had been hired to deliver the cocaine to a customer at a hotel in Bangkok. She has been imprisoned since then.
Nobanda was represented by a Bangkok state lawyer.
According to Grahamstown advocate, Ntsiki Sandi – who is her uncle – Nobanda narrowly escaped serving 30 years behind bars after the presiding judge reduced her sentence by half due to her personal circumstances, which were found to be extenuating.
She failed in her bid to serve out her sentence in a South African prison, close to her family.
The family planned to send a legal adviser and a family member to attend the judgment on Monday, but her mother Honjiswa Mbewu confirmed on Sunday that the trip had been cancelled.
“I had to cancel my journey to that county because my doctor has indicated that I suffer from acute stress and may not be fit to travel,” Mbewu said. Her safety was another reason.
“The syndicate which led Nobanda to Brazil has not yet been arrested by the South African authorities.”
A Royal Pardon would be her next option in the Thai Legal System
Individual Royal Pardon
Individual Royal Pardon is granted as a matter of routine procedure. Any convicted prisoner or a concerned person wishing to petition his Majesty the King praying for pardon may do so by submitting such petition through official channel. However, whether or not the pardon is granted shall be subject to the King’s discretion based on the recommendation submitted by the Minister of Justice.
Who can submit a petition?
* Convicted prisoners
* Concerned persons: parents, offsprings and spouse
* Diplomatic representatives (only in the case of foreign prisoners)
When can the petition be submitted
* For prisoners imposed with sentence other than death, the petition can be submitted at once the case becomes final
* For prisoners sentenced to death, the petition must be submitted within 60 days from the date of hearing the judgement.
Procedure of submitting the petition
After a case has become final, a person sentenced to whatever punishment or an concerned person can submit a petition either through the prison authority, the Ministry of Justice, The Office of His Majesty Principal Private Secretary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Embassy of his/ her country. Upon receiving of such petition, the Department of Corrections shall forward the petition to the prison authority to verify the accuracy of information. After that, the Department shall forward the petition together with the recommendation to the Minister of Justice, who will then propose the petition to his Majesty the King through The Secretariat of the Cabinet and The Office of His Majesty Principal Private Secretary. Once informed the result of the petition, Department of Corrections shall notify the petitioner and take action accordingly.