CHIANGRAI TIMES – An Eastern Cape woman has denied helping to recruit and train her friend Nolubabalo Nobanda to smuggle cocaine into Thailand.
“I never asked that she be involved. I never recruited her,” Sulezi Rwanqa said in a telephonic interview from her Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, home.
Rwanqa was travelling with Nobanda at the time of her arrest at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on December 12, 2011.
In a letter to her parents, Nobanda says she was going to Brazil to work in a shoe shop. Rwanqa had told her to fly from South Africa to Brazil two days after Rwanqa left.
According to Nobanda’s letter, on her arrival in South America she was met by a Brazilian man who asked her name and told her Rwanqa was waiting in a nearby hotel. At the hotel, she says, a number of women were being trained to smuggle drugs.
Nobanda travelled with Rwanqa from Brazil to Thailand and at the time of her arrest, she had Rwanqa’s phone, but Rwanqa was nowhere to be found.
Rwanqa returned to South Africa later in December. Rwanqa said she had been travelling with Nobanda at the time of her arrest but disputed being a drug mule recruiter. She said she could not be blamed for Nobanda’s arrest.
“What I know is that Babsie (Nobanda) was not feeling good, and in fact became sick in Brazil, and I was by her side. I cannot say much.”
Nobanda was expected to appear in a Bangkok court on March 19.
In her letter, Nobanda said the weight of the cocaine she was charged with carrying had been reduced from over 1kg to around 600g because it had been mixed with baking powder. She hoped this would make the charges against her less severe