Eastern Cape mom held for smuggling heroin

Woman, 30, swallowed 1.2kg of heroin and flew to Mauritius, only to be arrested at hotel after tip-off

Nomathamsanqa Dyasi made this trip with more than a kilogramme of heroin in her stomach
Nomathamsanqa Dyasi made this trip with more than a kilogramme of heroin in her stomach

A 30-year-old Eastern Cape mother of three has joined a shocking 800 South Africans in international jails for drug smuggling and abuse.

Nomathamsanqa Dyasi, 30, from Tentergate village near Komani, apparently took her life into her hands when she swallowed 1.2kg of heroin and flew to Mauritius.

According to Mauritian police the value of the stash is a reported R7.8m.

Dyasi appears to have been betrayed and used in the vicious underworld of drug and human trafficking, and was arrested in her hotel after a tip-off on September 24.

Using smaller drug mules as decoys is a common ploy, said Patricia Gerber, director of the NGO Locked Up in a Foreign Country.

Mules like Dyasi were allegedly sent in and bust, while the real mules breezed through customs, often with bigger amounts of contraband and help from corrupt officials.

The consequences for drug mules are dreadful. The last South African to hit the headlines for drug trafficking was sentenced to death a little over a month ago.

The man, who is not being named by the international relations and cooperation department, has appealed. Although the SA government will monitor his appeal, minister Lindiwe Sisulu warned South Africans to stay away from the deadly trade.

She said she was concerned about the high number of South Africans in international jails, mainly due to drugs.

After the death of her grandmother, she moved to Johannesburg and she would occasionally come to the village with a lot of money and party with her friends,”
Andisiwe Poni

Dispatch tracked down Dyasi’s family in tiny Tentergate village 20km west of Komani. A call to a family member revealed fear and desperation.

According to her neighbours, Dyasi changed from being an introverted child into a noisy, fun-loving person who enjoyed partying with friends.

They said she left Tentergate village three years ago after the death of her grandmother to go and stay with a relative in Johannesburg.

“She grew up in the village as a quiet person but changed when she was in high school when she started smoking and drinking and that led her to dropping out of school before she could reach her matric,” said villager Andisiwe Poni.

Poni however said although there was no proof that she smoked drugs in the village, her anti-social behaviour was out of character for someone they knew.

“After the death of her grandmother, she moved to Johannesburg and she would occasionally come to the village with a lot of money and party with her friends,” she said.

She said the village was shocked by Dyasi’s arrest.

A family member who initially appealed to South Africans to help them get Dyasi home, later demanded the story not be written.

The family member, who did not want to be named, earlier said: “As the family we are still trying to go to Mauritius as we are not sure whether she is alive or dead.

“The whole family is traumatised by this and we want to go there and see her as we don’t have a family member in Mauritius.”

However, department of international relations and cooperation spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya confirmed to TimesLIVE on Tuesday: “We are aware of her arrest. We will visit her in prison on the 19th.”

The family member said: “What is painful about this is that she has three young children and I think it is important that she can be kept here in South Africa close to her home.

“We urge anyone who can help us, to come forward and assist in getting Thami back home.”

Gerber said the SA government did not have a prisoner transfer agreement with any foreign country.

She pointed out that the majority of South Africans arrested overseas were all first-time offenders.

“Many are vulnerable and are coerced, manipulated and lied to. Unbeknown to them, they are recruited for the sole purpose to be arrested as the decoy, so that the drug mules who are protected by some corrupt police and airport officials can walk through with the larger amounts,” she said.

She said this was in fact human trafficking.

“Why was Namathamsanqa not arrested in OR Tambo international airport as the drugs were being taken from South Africa?”

According to Mauritius newspaper L’Express, Dyasi arrived in Mauritius from Johannesburg for a holiday.

The paper reported: “Dyasi was able to leave Plaisance’s airport on September 23 without being spotted by the customs anti-narcotics section of the Mauritius Revenue Authority or the anti-drug and smuggling unit (ADSU).

“ She spent the first day at the hotel in Mont Choisy.”

It reported the division then received information and elements of the division, led by Sergeant Jaisen Arnasala, raided the hotel.

“Dyasi was arrested and 11 ‘dumplings’ seized. As a radiological (X-ray) examination detected the presence of foreign bodies in her stomach, she was admitted to the North Hospital under police surveillance and placed under laxative treatment.”

North division ADSU officers led by Chief Inspector Bhojraj Seeballuck then took over the investigation, according to the paper.