Moms panic as kids are ‘banged up abroad’

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May 29, 2017
Moms panic as kids are ‘banged up abroad’

CREDIT: National Geopgraphic

Two South African mothers whose children face drug trafficking charges in Malaysia, are in a state of panic, uncertain if they will see them alive again.

Pensioner Lennie Blaauw of Pretoria fears she may never see her daughter, Melinda Stevenson, after she was expected to appear before a Malaysian court this week.

Stevenson, 41, has been awaiting trial in Pokok Sena prison in Malaysia since her arrest in Singapore three years ago.

Blaauw said she was worried her daughter could be subjected to the death penalty without her knowledge. Stevenson was expected to have appeared on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but her mother was still in the dark on what transpired during her case.

“I am going through a rough spell in life. Every time the phone rings, I get goose bumps. My health has deteriorated immensely through depression.

“The officials from the consulate are taking forever to share the news with us. The long waiting game is stressing the family because we do not know what transpired on Wednesday, when she appeared in court. My blood pressure has shot up due to anxiety and less sleep,” she said.

She said Stevenson had made several court appearances, but the matter had been postponed. Blaauw said they were praying that her daughter did not receive the death sentence. Malaysia was known for its no-nonsense approach to drug offenders.

“She is not allowed to use the phone, but when we asked the officials, they said she was doing fine. They also promised to give us feedback,” Blaauw said.

Blaauw said she last saw her daughter in April last year, when she visited her in prison.

Stevenson was arrested at Singapore airport and found with 3kg of methamphetamine. She had travelled without her family’s knowledge.

She said the family was praying for Melinda to be transferred back home to complete her sentence in a local prison.

“I hope they make a decision to have her back home.

“I could not stand seeing her receiving a death penalty if found guilty,” she said.

Another mother, Maria (Ria) Zeelie, 49, from Limpopo, said her son, Deon, who is 31, was serving life imprisonment in Malaysia after he was arrested in 2014 on drug-related charges. Although Ria does not have many details on what happened during his arrest, she said she missed her son.

“I am praying for him to be deported back, although chances are slim. It would make a lot of difference if he could serve the rest of the sentence here. We are all depressed following his arrest. His younger brother and sister are also asking when he is coming back?” she asked.

Attempts to solicit a response from the department of international relations spokesman Nelson Kgwete drew a blank.

Sunday Tribune

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