Today the Daily Voice brings you part one of “Diary of a Drug Mule”, the saga of a Cape Flats mom who put her body and her life on the line to try and give her children a better life.
The Mitchells Plain mom had no idea her decision would lead to her ending up in a hellish foreign prison for SIX YEARS, where luxuries like running water, toilets and clean food don’t exist.
Roekieyah Lorraine Benjamin, 45, of Eastridge was caught with 100 capsules of cocaine at the Quadro De Fevereiro Airport in Angola in February 2010.
The unemployed mom says the mang has changed her forever. For one, she now speaks in broken English with a heavy Portuguese accent – the foreign language spoken in Angola – that she was forced to learn to survive.
Her journey began in January 2010, when she was recruited to become a drug mule, hoping to earn R20 000 with which she was going to use to buy a home for her and her three kids.
Roekieyah was a single parent, working at a take-aways, and had been pushed from pillar to post with her children, that time aged 18, 15 and 8.
The mom says she was desperate when she agreed to meet a “recruiter” at her workplace in Lentegeur, after she was recommended by a friend.
“He told me I will get R20 000 and I told myself I need the money to put my children in a place. They told me straight, I would deliver drugs and I could decide where I wanted to transport it, in a bag or clothing or I could swallow it.”
She was to transport cocaine from Sao Paulo, in Brazil, to an airport in Angola, where she was supposed to meet a dealer.
She left Cape Town International Airport on 13 January 2010, and was going to spend a week in Brazil.
“I was not nervous, I knew I had to be focused,” she says.
She met the dealer at a bus stop, and chose to swallow the drugs.
Roekieyah explains: “But I ended up staying for a month because I couldn’t swallow, they taught me how, a little bit at a time.”
One morning in February 2010, with 100 capsules in her tummy, she boarded a flight to Maputo, Mozambique, from where she would catch another flight to the Quadro De Fevereiro Airport in Angola.
“The day of my flight, I started swallowing the capsules at 3am and my flight was 6pm.”
“When we reached Angola, they separated foreigners and locals. I was placed in a lounge area with another South African,” she says.
“I told myself in a week I will be home and have a house for my family.
“While waiting in the lounge, I struck up a conversation with the young man. Three hours later after smoking so many cigarettes, the police arrived. They took us to the back (of the airport) and started searching us.”
She says the cops slashed open the other man’s luggage and said they found cocaine inside.
“They said I am working with this man when they found cocaine in his bag. They found nothing on me and I told them I do not know the man, that we had just met.”
She believes she would have gotten away with it too, but then her stomach started working.
“My stomach started becoming queasy and I needed the toilet because I couldn’t keep the drugs inside of me for too long (by that time it had been nearly 24 hours).
“I walked to the toilet, did a number two, and pulled the chain, not realising the drugs didn’t flush away.”
Police found 85 capsules, and took her back to show her.
“They began cross-questioning me and I admitted I carried it. I told the truth and said I am sorry.”
A week later, she was taken to Angola’s biggest, and most notorious jail, the Central Prison of Luanda.
Find out how Roekieyah survived life in a foreign prison in Part Two tomorrow.