Durban – Convicted South African drug mule Nolubabalo Nobanda, who made international headlines after being caught smuggling cocaine into Thailand through her dreadlocks, returned home to a “celebrity welcome” after having served 8 years from her reduced 30-year prison sentence.
As television news cameras welcomed her at OR Tambo Airport and the first news reports went viral, Twitter users all over the world weighed in on the news, with many, not shying away from calling the act “double standard”.
Nobanda, from Grahamstown, was arrested at Bangkok International Airport in December 2011 for allegedly attempting to smuggle 1.5kg of cocaine from Brazil to Thailand. Officials spotted white residue on her hair when she arrived on a Qatar Airways flight.
She was initially handed a 30-year jail term which was reduced but this was further reduced in an amnesty granted to prisoners by Thailand’s king. Television news cameras caught the emotional reunion with her family just minutes after arriving at OR Tambo International Airport.
“It hasn’t been easy but my people have been behind me so I just want to thank my country for all their love, for all their support, and for all their prayers. I’m back home and I’m back stronger,” she told reporters.
Here are some of the tweets
— God’s Plan™ (@BulelaniCiki) September 19, 2019
Double standards indeed. So we are now celebrating a drug trafficker . @nidcom_gov here is the international legal representation status needed for citizens convicted abroad. @GovernmentZA must use her to leak the ropes of accomplicies in the trade. #NolubabaloNobanda pic.twitter.com/C7sJJTdj2F
— Unapologetically ProAfrican (@Nativeworx) September 19, 2019
— uGxabhashe (@Ntethehxulu) September 19, 2019
Why you celebrating like she was representing the country in the Olympics…She mixed with wrong people and paid the price, served her right!
— Motherfucker Jones (@MulisaMagau) September 19, 2019
To think Jub Jub even served a lesser sentence for that heinous crime than uBabsie but SAns forgave him and he still trends every weekend. Kodwa we can’t welcome #NolubabaloNobanda home.
— Manzila (@siyandam) September 19, 2019
The message we are trying to send as South Africans out there is that,if u are one of us and u decide to become a drug mule,we will forgive&glorify you because we understand,but if you are a Nigerian,we will fight tooth and nail to stop u and u send u back home #NolubabaloNobanda
— (@Senorita_Lue) September 19, 2019
I’m not being sexist but yet again #NolubabaloNobanda is being glorified and celebrated for dealing drugs. Just a week ago the country was on stand still people crying about drug lords. We both know the tweets will be different if it was a man.
— #TrendsSA (@bobbylava) September 19, 2019
Comparing Jub Jub & #NolubabaloNobanda is completely madness. Jub Jub was a drug user and Nolubabalo was a drug dealer that’s a HUGE difference. And besides Jub Jub was a superstar before his flaws.
— kuno Fresh (@ZonkeMawela) September 19, 2019
When babsie left I was poor, she was poor too, she’s coming back a celebrity , and nothing in my life has changed, wow sometimes I question my life choices #NolubabaloNobanda pic.twitter.com/WZVufUTRPg
— Jerieel Mkhabela (@Jerieel_m) September 19, 2019