CHIANGRAI TIMES – The South African Embassy in Bangkok has warned potential South African drug smugglers that it can do little to help them if they are caught – a statement that came as an alleged SA drug mule appeared in court in Thailand.
Nolubabalo Nobanda, arrested after cocaine was found hidden in her dreadlocks when she tried to enter Thailand in December, was remanded in custody on Monday until June 11 by a Bangkok court.
Thai custom officials said they found about 1.5kg of cocaine in her hair after she got off a Qatar Airways flights at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on December 13. They were alerted by white powder in her pair and found cocaine concealed in plastic wrapping in her dreadlocks.
Nelson Kgwete, from the International Relations and Co-operation Department, says they’ll do their best to assist South Africans who are in distress abroad.
However, the department says it won’t interfere in foreign judicial processes.
“The embassy of the Republic of South Africa resident in Bangkok, Thailand, also renders consular services to South African citizens in prison, on holiday, on business – or working in accredited countries. In carrying out this function the embassy remains mindful of international law principles,” he said.
The SA embassy in Bangkok said in a statement yesterday that no South African had yet received a royal pardon.
It also said that in carrying out its duty to help South Africans arrested in Thailand, it had to be “mindful of international law principles and avoid interfering in the judicial processes of other countries”.
“The embassy therefore wishes to advise fellow South Africans to be law-abiding.
“The embassy’s scope of involvement in the cases of South Africans abroad is limited as it can neither provide legal advisers for them nor fund their legal requirements.”
The embassy said royal pardons were granted at the king’s discretion.
“There is no fixed time frame. Amnesty is granted generally on the king’s birthday or the queen’s birthday. This involves a reduction of sentence.” – Anna Wong