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How Lisa got into drugs

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MATSAPHA – False job promises were used to lure Lisa Zikalala, the Swazi drug-mule who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand, into accepting her role in the illicit trade.

Zikalala finally lifted the lid on the circumstances leading to her arrest and eventual life in jail.

She did this yesterday when addressing a congregation during the annual Prison Fellowship Swaziland national prayer day, held at Mat-sapha Correctional Services.

She said some people, who were unknown to her at the time, must have used knowledge in their possession about her trying life circumstances as their Trojan horse, which they eventually used to lure her into taking up an overseas job that never was.

The bait see-med perfect because she began to bu-ild her cas-tles in the air, looking forward to a better life – somewhat of a gateway out of abject circumstances.

Everything, according to Zikalala, went well until the day of her arrest.

Upon her appre-hension in foreign lands, she said the people who had commissioned her to ferry the illegal consignment; like fog in the advent of sunshine, suddenly dissipated into thin air.

"Suddenly, I found myself acting courier for a drug consignment," she said. "The most painful part is that when I later got arrested at the airport in Thailand, there was no one by my side, and I was left alone to fend for myself."

She said things really got tough, and the fact that prison life in Thailand was no bed of roses added more emotional strain. "It all seemed like I had been immersed into a deep abyss where return seemed impossible," she recalled.

"You could have been tempted to lose all hope in despair."


She shared that it was not until she had made a thorough introspection into her life, which later led into her decision to reconcile with supernatural powers, that she finally found peace.

"Suddenly, there was hope," she said. She said it was through her suddenly found relationship with God that things soon eased up.

The heavy load that weighed upon her shoulders disappeared even though everything was still happening incrementally."I would pray and fast, at times having to go without food for a period of 21 days," she elucidated, much to wide approval from the congregants who seemed absorbed in her testimony.

Zikalala said her prayers were finally answered when she got wind that something was being done back home about her situation.

Government authorities had begun to take up the issue with their Thailand counterparts, which meant that the strain of having to sleep and wake up under crowded conditions could finally be put behind her.

Indeed, she finally bid her goodbyes to the Thai prison in April 2011, following successful bilateral negotiations between government and Thai authorities.

During the event, Zikalala was short of enough words to thank government for the role it played in securing her eventual release from prison in Thailand so that she could be able to serve her remaining sentence at home.

Drawing from her tortuous prison life experiences, which somehow had a murky beginning but a promising end, she said others serving long sentences at correctional facilities should not lose hope in despair. She encouraged inmates to trudge on, and draw strength from the power of the Almighty.

Her testimony took the better of Correctional Services authorities. Senior Correctional Services Chaplain, Nhlanhla Mbingo, said her story was testimony to the great things God can do for a person.

Free Evangelical Church Pastor Sibonisa Makhubu said God had his own way of performing miracles through other people inspite of their past.

He said people should desist from being judgemental when dealing with others because one is never certain of God’s plans with that particular individual.

Correctional Services Commissioner, through the word of his Assistant Eric Makhathini, urged society to be forgiving to people serving time at correctional institutions for varying crimes.

He said this would go a long way into reducing the crime rate in the kingdom, specifically because rejection by society had a cumulative effect on the rate of repeat-offenders.

"Released inmates begin streaming back into our institutions whenever they find it hard to reunite with the people they wronged in the past," he said. "Such a state of affairs has the potential of opening up cracks and fissures where criminals could plant back the seed of contempt, thereby condemning a corrected inmate back into the cycle of wrongdoing."

Zikalala was sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand but only served 16 years of the sentence following negotiations for her repatriation back into the country.

She will serve the remainder of her sentence in Swaziland but it is not yet clear when she will be released. Indications, however, are that she will not be released earlier than June 2021, which is exactly nine years from now.



Women who fell into same trap

MBABANE - Drug mules are often duped into taking a job overseas. They are then forced to swallow over a kilogram of drugs not getting paid and deprived of food for not obeying orders.

This is the picture painted by a South African drug mule currently in hiding with two others after escaping from Istanbul in Turkey, where she made a U-turn to South Africa instead of Bangladesh where she was supposed to collect drugs.

Thirty-year-old *Nono, whose name has been withheld for her safety, sought refuge with the South African police, the Hawks after managing to escape from the clutches of a drug syndicate.

Nono had responded to an advert placed in Isolezwe newspaper (a newspaper based in Durban in October 2011. She said the advert in the classified section of the newspaper looked legitimate with a landline number.

Nolubabalo Nobanda was sentenced to 15 years in jail and fined the equivalent of E250 000 in Thailand, following her arrest at the Bangkok International Airport last year.

The Eastern Cape resident attempted to smuggle 1.4 kilograms of cocaine weaved into her hair.

Her initial 30 year sentence was reduced to 15 years, given her cooperation with officials. 

Nobanda (23) claimed she was lured by a friend who asked that she accompany her to Brazil to fetch hair products for a Nigerian national living in South Africa.

South African, woman Janice Bronwyn Linden, 38 was executed in China for drug smuggling. She was executed in December 2011, more than three years after her arrest.

Linden was arrested in November 2008 after being found in possession of three kilograms of methamphetamine on her arrival at the airport in the southern Chinese city of Guang-zhou.

She maintained her innocence, saying the drugs had been planted in her suitcase.

However, both the Guangdong High Court and the Supreme Court inBeijing rejected her appeal.

Tessa Beetge, a KwaZulu-Natal woman is serving an eight-year jail sentence in Brazil for drug trafficking.

She has four more years of her sentence to serve in a Sao Paulo jail.

Beetge was found in possession of cocaine in Brazil on June 13, 2008. Ten kilograms of raw cocaine was found in her luggage.

Another South African woman was arrested at Bangkok airport attempting to smuggle two kilograms of crystal methamphetamine.

Narcotics police acting on a tip-off stopped 31-year-old Adelina Onon-iwu at Suvarnabhumi Airport after she arrived from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and was waiting for a connecting flight to Cambodia.

Police say they found the drugs in three bags hidden in a secret compartment in her luggage. The haul has a street value of about E660 000.

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