Zimbabwean Ex-drug Mule Recalls Her Time In An Indian Prison

Crimes and Courts

A former Zimbabwean drug mule who spent two years in an Indian jail says an appetite for fast money and a life of luxury lure women into the drug mule trade.

Cynthia Mpunga (42) told News24’s Lenin Ndebele that she hid her drug mule operations from close family members, including her husband.

Mpunga was arrested at Cochin International Airport in the city of Kochi in India in 2015 after security officials found ephedrine that had a street value of about US$ 1.4 million in her luggage.

Even though it is an over-the-counter drug in some countries, it’s illegal in India.

She said she would have received US$450 for delivering the drug, besides accommodation, flights, food and other benefits. She said:

My family back home was worried. They thought I was held in a dungeon where, probably, there was no one I could speak to in English [while] living in a confined cell. All the scary things you can imagine were on their minds.

Two years was like a death sentence for me, but when I got into prison, I saw life differently.

I took up jobs while inside. I used to clean, and with basic sewing experience, I also did some work with fabrics.

Like other prisoners doing jobs, I earned a decent stipend. That money was deposited into our accounts monthly.

One could withdraw and buy whatever one desired to use after jail time.

She said while in prison, all she could think of was her daughter, who was only two years old when she was arrested.

Mpunga said she was drawn into the industry by a South African woman who she didn’t want to name for security reasons.

She said the idea of travelling the world and earning money that even some professionals don’t earn was attractive.

Mpunga said she had been to India five times in the space of three months before, and that aroused suspicions.

Her arrest in India was was the second time she had to be detained for a drug offence in the same year.

Earlier in 2015, Mpunga was arrested in Botswana at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on arrival in Gaborone from India, via Kenya.

She had 20kg of an illicit substance and spent two months in jail in Botswana and later paid a P10 000 fine for her to be released.

Mpunga was also banned from entering Botswana for 10 years. | News24