Drug mule Babsie Nobanda got a degree in Thai prison

A screen grab from a television station in Thailand of Nolubabalo ‘Babsie’ Nobanda when she was nabbed smuggling cocaine in her dreadlocks.
Image: File photo/Archive

Drug mule Nolubabalo “Babsie” Nobanda, from Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, is ready to become a productive member of society, armed with a degree she obtained through distance learning while in a Thai prison.

So says good samaritan Henk Vanstaen, a Thai resident who has played an integral role in helping her since her arrest in 2011.

Nobanda, now 31, was caught at the Bangkok airport with 650g of cocaine mixed with baking powder in her dreadlocks. She is expected to return home by early September.

Vanstaen told the Daily Dispatch newspaper in East London: “I know she learnt a lot during her stay here. Not only she will come out with a degree in communication, but what is more important, with the realisation that she took her destiny in her own hands and became a better person.

“She should be proud. She is now ready and committed to put that into practice.”

TimesLIVE reported in 2014 how her mother Honjiswa Mbewu praised Babsie’s “beautiful smile”, before a visit to her daughter in prison.

“I’m so excited. I’m taking her sweets, biscuits and biltong. She doesn’t like biltong, but I’m taking it to remind her of home,” said the caring mom.

Mbewu also disclosed she was taking underwear, toiletries and books and magazines for her daughter – to be opened after she finished her exams that year.

Babsie was then in the second year of her communication studies with Unisa, which gave her a task – teaching English to prison officials.

When she was not working or studying, she spent much of her time with a close friend from the Free State, Thando Pendu.

Pendu, 33, returned to South Africa in June after being released after 10 years in jail in Thailand, also for drug smuggling.




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