SA drug mule in Kenya was sent abroad by pastor

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By Soyiso Maluti | IOL |

Khayelitsha pensioner Xoliswa Gogo prays every night she will receive a call from Langata prison in Kenya, where her daughter has been held on drug-trafficking charges since 2015.

Thobeka Manjoti has been arrested in Kenya for allegedly trafficking drugs. Picture by Ayanda Ndamane

The last time communication came from Thobeka Manjati, 42, who is awaiting trial, was about a month ago. That communication came via a third party because she “has no access to phone calls”, according to Gogo.

Manjati, who is accused of attempting to smuggle ecstasy pills, will stand trial on May 31, but few details have been provided to the family by a go-between contact in Kenya.

Gogo, 58, said her close-knit family had been ruined by the arrest and she had left her church.

She said at the request of the family’s Nigerian pastor, Lawrence Ukpabi, whose church is based in Parow, Manjati had travelled to India in 2014 and returned before flying to Nairobi, where she was arrested on arrival in 2015.

Growing visibly upset during the interview, Gogo claimed Ukpabi had asked the family to bring Manjati’s ID and CV for a job opportunity.

She claimed the alleged prophet had promised to take her daughter overseas.

A few comments have appeared on Thobeka’s Facebook page, with friends asking her whereabouts.

Gogo said she became so emotional and desperate that she considered paying a pastor in Kenya R25 000 to put her and Manjati in regular contact.

“I realised I was vulnerable and decided against that at the last minute. I hope the embassies here and the South African one in Kenya can help me,” she said.

Gogo said Thobeka’s three children had been negatively affected by her absence.

Their father, Mzukisi Mpingose, said the children had received counselling in 2015.

“But I can tell they miss their mother,” he said.

He alleged there had been a lot of deceit going on in the church.

Mpingose lambasted the Kenyan and South African embassies, saying they had done nothing to update the family.

Ukpabi is still based in Cape Town. He said he had helped Manjati get a visa, but had had no hand in her subsequent activities.

He added that when Manjati had gone to India for the first time, he had helped her get a visa because she was a church member.

He said Manjati had used the three-month visa to return to India without telling him what she was planning.

At the time of publication the SA and Kenyan embassies had not responded to queries sent by Weekend Argus.