Convicted South African drug mule Nolubabalo "Babsie" Nobanda will be arriving back in South Africa on Thursday.

Nobanda was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on December 12, 2011, after getting off a Qatar Airways flight.

Approximately 1.5kg of cocaine, with an estimated street value of R1.2m, was found in her dreadlocks after police noticed a white substance in her hair, News24 earlier reported.

Nobanda told Thailand authorities that she had been hired to deliver the drugs to a customer at a hotel in Bankgok.

Initially sentenced to 30 years in prison, Nobanda's sentence was first halved and then reduced by two-and-a-half years in May.

In August, Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Nelson Kgwete announced that Nobanda would be released from prison.

"The South African embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, has confirmed having received a written notification from the Thai authorities informing the embassy that Ms Nolubabalo Nobanda is due to be released from detention on August 27."

After Nobanda's release from prison, she was moved to an Immigration Detention Centre, from where she underwent more administrative processing, before she could return to the country.

Another South African drug mule and friend of Nobanda's, Thando Pendu, returned to South Africa in June this year after being released from the same prison, DispatchLive reported.

The publication said the 33-year-old, who hails from Welkom in the Free State, arrived at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on June 27, where family members and supporters greeted her.

Pendu had been in prison for drug smuggling since October 2009, Mail & Guardian reported. At the time of her arrest, she was 23 years old.

She had reportedly been promised a job driving ambulances in Bangkok.


- Compiled by Riaan Grobler