Home News SA woman convicted of selling and smuggling drugs in Thailand escapes death...

SA woman convicted of selling and smuggling drugs in Thailand escapes death sentence

SA woman convicted of selling and smuggling drugs in Thailand escapes death sentence

Johannesburg – A South African woman languishing in a Thai prison has not abandoned her bid for freedom and has lodged an appeal to the Thai Supreme Court after her sentence was reduced to 33.4 years.

George-born Ashley Oosthuizen initially received the death sentence, but that was later changed to life imprisonment.

The 22-year-old was convicted of selling and smuggling drugs from the coffee shop owned by her former boyfriend, Tristan Nettles, but her family maintains she’s innocent.

Nettles, a US citizen, admitted to the crime. Oosthuizen, a former learner at Outeniqua High School, left for Thailand in March 2018, shortly after she matriculated, and took up a job as a teacher on Koh Samui island.

It was there she met the 32-year-old American teacher who was employed at another school on the island, and soon the pair were an item.

In an interview with Independent Newspapers from an undisclosed location, Nettles admitted to being a former international drug trafficker with a long criminal record stretching back to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon when he was only 11. He also admitted to smuggling and selling the drugs his former girlfriend is now in prison for.

Nettles was not in Thailand when Oosthuizen was arrested and has not returned to the country since. There is a warrant of arrest out on him. When asked why he didn’t turn himself in, Nettles said he wouldn’t be able to do anything for Oosthuizen if he too was in prison. He also claimed that he fought in the war in Ukraine for Ashley.

“I was in a corner. I decided to bring in packages to the coffee shop. Ashley was the manager and had no idea I was dealing drugs. I sold party drugs: marijuana, Ketamine, MDMA and LSD,” said Nettles.

But instead of swapping places with Oosthuizen, Nettles went on the run and started various websites to raise awareness about Oosthuizen’s incarceration. Nettles also unsuccessfully tried to start a crowdfunding platform to raise money for her legal costs, but that was shot down by her family who accused him of trying to cash in on their misery.

He has also written a book documenting his drug-smuggling operation in Thailand but is still struggling to raise money for its publication.

Nettles blames the principal of his former school for Oosthuizen’s arrest saying, “Ashley took the fall as a scapegoat to cover up another teacher’s involvement. They were jealous of me because I ran a successful drug operation right under their noses. The crime lords are all jealous of me, that’s why Ashley is in prison.”

When asked if he was still in contact with his former girlfriend, Nettles provided this account: “She is not well. She shares a cell with 50 other women and they all share one toilet. She’s not happy with me either. I have never really had a relationship with Ashley’s family.”

Nettles claims that he speaks with Oosthuizen at least once a month and sends between 350-500$ US (R6000-R8000). But unbeknown to Nettles, Oosthuizen’s mother, Lynnette Blignaut, has moved to Thailand to be closer to her daughter during the appeals process, and she has denied claims of contact or money exchanges between her daughter and Nettles.

The former boyfriend and mother also provided very different updates on Oosthuizen’s welfare. Blignaut said: “She is doing well. She has her ups and downs like all of us now and again but is very positive and in high spirits.”

On whether there was contact between the now-doomed lovers, Blignaut said: “She has finally realised in August what a great a manipulator he is and has slowly managed to loosen herself from this terrible grip by the grace of God. He has unfortunately managed to get hold of the app we communicate with her. So now it will be her test to ignore these letters and not get sucked back into his grip. She has told him she wants nothing to do with him anymore but he just continues. We can only pray about this situation. Unless someone has been in the same situation, nobody can understand what it’s like.”

Blignaut has been living in Thailand for two months now, and while it was challenging at first, she has adapted.

“I’ve put my head down and started to learn Thai more seriously. It helps living amongst the locals and a landlady who can speak just enough English to help with the correct pronunciation – otherwise, no one would understand. It’s a necessity where I live to be able to speak and understand. It’s not the same as on the islands where there are lots of farangs (a foreigner in Thailand who is of Western ancestry) and English is spoken by many,” she said.

On a successful appeal, Blignaut said: “Chances are extremely good for the SC (Supreme Court) to accept the appeal. We will, in due time, comment more on the appeal, etc.”

Blignaut said she will stay in Thailand as long as she's able to.

“It’s challenging, but I do have my business, of course, which helps with living costs. Although it’s not a business in the sense of making profit, I am able to cover my expenses for the moment. It’s a little cheaper also at least because I’m living amongst the locals and eating mostly street food, etc. For the moment, I have savings for the legal costs. By public demand, back in February, I set up an NPC should people want to donate towards anything. I believe the Lord will provide as He has always done, so I choose not to be concerned about funds. If it runs out He will continue to provide. I trust Him and keep my focus on Him,” she concluded.

Anyone who wishes to assist with Oosthuizen’s legal costs can do so at: Hearts4Ashley, NPC FNB, Garden Route Mall, Business Account # 629 3970 9020, Branch Code: 250069, Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ & and PayPal Account: Hearts4Ashley.

The Saturday Star

Original Article