Domestic worker turned drug mule’s ordeal

Nokwazi Memela served seven years in prison after being caught with drugs.

The lure of easy money in an economy which has been seeing a downward spiral in recent years is one to which many unsuspecting victims fall prey.

Over the years, we have watched as South Africans travelling abroad are arrested on charges of drug trafficking and detained in foreign countries.

Nokwazi Memela’s story is one which should serve as a cautionary tale to South Africans of all races, ages and sexes about the dangers of human- and drug trafficking.

She was invited to give youth a tough talk about human trafficking in China at an event held at the David Pine Community Hall on October 26.



Memela’s revelations about her struggle at the hands of a drug syndicate operating in Iran and the pastors, hiding behind their clerical collars, who were part of the drug trafficking syndicate she was caught up in.

“Youth and ladies should be mindful of job offers from overseas and must double check with the agency of that particular country.

“Don’t let anyone work on your mind and deceive you. You should learn to trust your instincts,” said Memela.

According to Memela, she was lured into drug trafficking in 2005 by a man of the cloth who promised her a better life.



She said that after providing her with constant food parcels and money, she eventually joined the church and within a short space of time, she was offered a lucrative job exporting rugs from Iraq to China.

“I didn’t mind quitting my job as a domestic worker and accepted the job. The job had enormous benefits and I thought my life would be changed for the better because I would be able to send my children to a model C school, purchase my dream home and live a comfortable life,” said Memela.

After accepting the new job, the pastors employed two people to take care of Memela’s five children while she was overseas.

When she arrived in Iran, she was sharing a house with a Ugandan woman.A few days later, she questioned acquaintances of the Nigerian pastors about the job she was promised.



“My host refused to give me a straight answer and they became hostile towards me and my Ugandan roommate. They detained us inside their huge building, confiscated our passports, gave us bad-smelling food and forced us to crouch whenever we passed the windows. They forbade us from making loud noises so as not to attract attention,” said Memela.

A few weeks later, they were presented with a large number of oblong parcels wrapped in plastic which contained drugs. The pair were told to swallow the parcels.

Memela said that their captors beat and forced both women to swallow the drugs and added that she became very dizzy after swallowing the drugs before they were taken to Tehran Airport.

“We were arrested when we boarded a flight to China for being in possession of drugs. My two Ugandan accomplices were immediately detained. I passed out while immigration officers were busy interrogating us. I woke up in excruciating pain in a hospital after undergoing emergency medical surgery to remove one of the objects they told me was a drug pack which had burst inside my stomach. Forty other packs were successfully removed, including others which had been forced into my private parts by my captors,” said Memela.



Three days later, Mamela was sent to a prison in Iran where she was sentenced to seven years for the illegal possession of drugs.

During her incarceration, she asked for improved conditions through the embassy but nothing changed.

This drove her to severe depression and numerous attempted suicides. She also had a hysterectomy after she developed cancer of the womb.

After her ordeal, Mamela became a motivational speaker to create awareness about the dangerous human- and drug trafficking trade which spans all corners of the globe, with sometimes life-threatening consequences for the unwitting-and in many cases-unwilling drug mules forced into it by these syndicates.




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  AUTHOR
Mpumi Mtshali

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