tv Locked Up Abroad MSNBC March 13, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
one of the officers came to the cell and he said, do you know what you've done. you're responsible for killing our people, our children, of taking this stuff. it is the greatest betrayal. because he knew exactly what was in those shoes. this is heroin. you catch this guy or you face 25 years. i'm going to be the sting operation. he reaches for something in the car. this is where my heart stops.
this is big money. people kill for money. if you're weaker than me, i'll crush you. that's just the way it works. i become absolutely insane. i was look at 45 years. i was living in johannesburg with my sister. i was 20 years old. it was quite a difficult time because our mother passed away. so it was very hard to deal with. i had to look after her. she was like 16. i tried techniques with my sister.
work time. >> i'm responsible. i'll work. i'll pay the rent at the end of the month. you've got to feed yourself. you've got to feed your sister. you've got to do a lot of things. pressure. you are under pressure. i just needed a break. just leave everything and just go. i had a bar job. i actually worked two bar jobs. one during the week and one on the weekends. he was a regular customer. he is quite a big guy. he was very friendly. he was very outgoing, social. he seemed like a really nice guy. obviously that's the kind of customer that you want.
he had a job. he was organized in life. he was going somewhere. you want to be like that. it's appealing. one day he said to me, well if you want to, let's go somewhere. he asked questions about me. my family life. what i enjoyed in life. he took my number as well. used to phone me quite often after that. i think looking back at it now, he knew exactly what he was doing. the next time me and c.j. met, he was showing me pictures of mauritius. he had been there before. the beaches were stunning. a little island. it has all these mountains on it. it is green and beautiful. it is an amazing place. he mentioned that we should go. i said to him, at this stage of the game, i can't afford go. i really can't.
i don't have the money. he said, i can afford to pay for everything. i don't know if i believed him or not, because men say things all the time. you take it with a pinch of salt. because there is this man who is offering to take you on a dream holiday. what does he want in return? nothing in life is for free. on the other hand, one week in a paradise island is amazing. i just wanted to get away. i said okay, sure. i sure have said no. i should have refused a thousand times. but i didn't. my sister, once i mentioned it to her, she was a bit jealous. because she didn't like c.j. >> i think he is a great guy. >> it was a case of something about him i don't like. it wasn't something she could put her finger on.
>> i just don't like him. >> the next time i saw c.j., he said to me -- >> i've got a little bit of bad news on my side. >> he can't come with me but he promised me the whole thing and the ticket is paid for. >> go have fun. yeah, of course. >> c.j. did mention -- i will ask you a little favor. >> i need to take a pair of shoes with me. he wanted me to wear these shoes and once i was there, i would hand them over to a friend of his who would come and meet me. >> he will pick them up from you once you goat mauritius. what is inside the shoes. >> doesn't matter. better if you don't know. >> he was so light that it didn't seem like anything serious. okay, sure. let's do it. >> it was bug meg a little bit. how can somebody pay so much for you to go all the way there. what's inside these things.
the day before i was supposed to fly out, c.j. phoned me. and he said, he is coming to pick me up. i'm going to take you to a hotel because it is closer to the airport anyway. the only thing going through my head, i felt confident that things would go okay, you know. once we were in the car, i could feel a little bit of tension. i didn't want to make it worse. so we were struggling a bit with conversation. and we got to a hotel. this is where he pulled out this plastic bag. and he opens it up and takes out this pair of shoes.
and i look at those shoes and i think oh, my gosh, what a horrible color. it is like this tan color. and i just think, what on earth am i going to wear with this. what is going to match this. there was no strap in the back. i don't like the sound they make when i wear them. the shoes were just a bad thing all together. i'm thinking about these shoes and there must be something in them. but i didn't pay too much attention to that. i just pushed it aside. i go shower. i change. c.j. tells me that once i got mauritius, he would come and have a friend pick the shoes up for me. he gave me a sim card. he gave me dollars as well. and i'm on my way. once i got to the airport, c.j. took my bag out of the car.
and then he kissed me on the cheek. he said, have a nice time and i will see you soon. i'm quite away from him. the strain is getting to me. it is a little bit itchy. i just phoned my sister to say good-bye before i left. and she was like, have fun. i miss you. i love you. take care of yourself. i'll see you in one week. mauritius is such a beautiful place. the beaches are stunning. it's got white sand. beautiful blue ocean. i just want to get there. i just want to have fun. that's it.
on the plane, i had quite a few vodkas. so i'm already in a relaxed state. you come down a little ramp. and you can basically see the customs ahead of you. everyone else walking around were excited. they were happy. smiling. everyone was just basically in such a good mood. just behind the captain again the wall, there was a group of people. a tour man. the way he looked at me sent chills down my spine. i thought, you guys are waiting for me. it was just a dreaded feeling. it made me nervous. it made me queasy. it made me feel sick. i just thought, no. i looked at them and the way they looked at me, i thought, that's it.
it's over. it is game over. i made a bee line for the bathroom. i could see in the mirror that i am a bit pale. definitely affecting me. i've got to sit down. i've got to relax. i should have just run. but where do i go to? c.j. knows where i stay. he knows where i work. he knows who my sister is. where do you go? i remember looking down at these shoes and thinking, okay, now i really want know what's inside here. so i took one off my foot and i actually turned it around. and it looks normal. you actually can't see if they put anything inside it or if it
has been opened. you can't see anything. i've been sitting in the bathroom for quite a while now. so i've got to start moving. i splash my face with a bit of water. i look okay. let's go. i'm trying to smile and be happy, but i'm really not feeling it. and these people are still watching me. it's a dreadful feeling. you're walking the plank one step at a time. the whole entire time, my eyes were focused on them.
they don't take their eyes off me. i see everyone else taking suitcases and walking and going along. that's where i'm supposed to be. i just know i'm not going here. the lady at the passport control is smiling and she takes my passport. i'm not hearing anything she's saying. i'm basically in this tunnel and i couldn't get rid of this feeling inside me that, this is just not good. that something bad is going to happen. the same guy who had the menacing look, he is the one who says, we've been waiting for you. it is like game over. you play this game and you just lose. oh yea, that's coming down let's get some rocks, man.
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please sit down. >> straight away, it was a case of, can we have your shoes. i hand them over and he pushes this long crushing needle into the back of them. as he pulls it out, it had a white powder in it. i'm a bit shocked. my eyes are open now, i'm watching. he pull the bottom of the sole off. they take out a plastic bag and it is in the shoe where they hollowed it out. he opens up the plastic and takes the powder and rubs it. he smells it and he says to me, do you know what it is? it's heroin.
>> this is where i know i'm in big trouble. my whole life, i hear how about heroin is. it is the worst drug ever. i'm carrying this stuff. i've never seen heroin before. i'm sitting with a mountain of this stuff in front of me. i'm in big trouble. the man said to me that -- >> the sentence is 45 years. >> i'll be 65, that's the age i'll be in prison. my life is over. i will never have children. i will never get married. i will never see my family again. my life is over. that's it. i had a little backpack with me. as they were searching through this, they had come across the sim card that c.j. had given me.
>> where is your contact? >> i don't know. his name is c.j. >> he also found a slip of paper with a hotel name on it. >> how were you to make contact? >> c.j. was going to let me know when i got here. >> who gave this to me. where do i have go. who do i have to give it to. who's it for? >> i don't know. i don't know anything. >> okay, this is what is going to happen. >> he said to me that, if i got and meet this man, so that they can organize a sting operation, and they catch this guy, then i will go home. >> how does that sound? >> i was afraid, but there's a door out, there's a way out. that's basically all i focus on. i don't think of the consequences. >> will you help us? >> i pretty much agreed to it. i will do the sting operation. >> i guess so. >> i want to go home. i just want to go home.
i come to the airport. he takes my suitcase and puts it in the back of the taxi. he gets into the front. and as does the driver and got into a car behind us. as we drive away from the airport, i can see the ocean. and i remember this feeling of sadness and this feeling of disappointment. i had a feeling i would never see it. hey, c.j. >> c.j. says to me, why does it take you so long?
i tried to make everything seem okay. he knows i love the ocean so for him and for me it seems like the most logical thing in the world. >> no, no, we just stopped at the beach. maybe at that point c.j. did have a little bit of a suspicious wiggle. he then said to me, i'm going to give you the name of another hotel. >> change hotels? >> hotel ala, he said to me, go there. >> all right, bye. >> destination change. >> we pull into the hotel. and the driver gets out. he takes my bag. we have to go up two flights of stairs. i remember seeing geckos on the wall. i remember that because when i was little we used to go to game parks sometimes and you got to
use geckos running around on the wall. for me, that is sad. because this is not a holiday. we walk into the hotel room and everybody comes in. and we wait for c.j. >> i didn't know whether c.j. would realize this was a trap. >> hello? >> the other police officer sat next to me on the bed and her head is close to me so she can hear everything c.j. is saying. maybe at that point c.j. got nervous or maybe he knew -- >> yeah. >> c.j. had a suspicion that i wouldn't come and i would be stuck with 45 years. i'm panicking big time. i tried to make everything seem okay.
and he seemed go along with it. he said that he is going to get his friend to find me. i will just wait for him to call. >> bye. >> so they said, well, we wait. the atmosphere at this moment is definitely getting a bit more hard. i'm feeling tired. i'm feeling frustrated. i'm feeling fed up. now the phone rings again. and nobody speaks. the man just nods. and i answer it. >> hello? >> hi. >> and somebody introduced himself and c.j.'s friend. >> okay. >> he said to me, to wear my hair loose so he knows who i am. put the shoes into a bag and he will meet me outside the hotel.
>> all right, bye. >> they basically told me do exactly what he said. and they said that i must make shower that i give him the bag. they said to me that they can't do anything unless i actually hand him the bag. i brush my hair. took the shoes. put them inside the bag. i think the police said he noticed i was nervous because my heart was beating at a thousand miles per hour. she said to me, just relax. everything is going to be fine. at this point, i didn't have any confidence in these guys. because they don't seem to be speaking too much to other people. surely a sting operation should have other people waiting. i'm terrified of the dock. it is one of the things that i'm most afraid of actually.
and looking out across this road, i just thought, how am i going to do this. if c.j. had a suspicion, he would get me killed out there. i was thinking what it was like in johannesburg. people walk up to your car window and they shoot you. this guy could have a gun in his car. i am a walking target. i'm feeling sick. i was terrified. i'm the worm on the end of the line. that's it. i'm just a little worm. [ female announcer ] we help make secure financial tomorrows a reality
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i do see a 4 x 4. it is quite dark, though. so i didn't know whether it was the right one or not, but there is no other car in sight. i do want to know where the police are. so i want to just have a quick look where are they, but i know if i do that, the driver would realize it. so i fight that urge down and i just got to keep walking. as i approach the car, i see him for the first time. he had a very cold, impersonal stare. icy eyes, actually. it was horrible. chilling. when he looked at me, he just -- and the gentlemen next to him. then he bent down a little bit and reaches for something in the car. and this is where my heart stops. i wondered, what's going on behind me.
has he seen something. it was the terrible feeling because i didn't know whether he was pulling out a gun. i think if he has a knife on him, he could stab me. anything could happen. i'm the person in the middle. and i see a roll of notes in his hands. so i kind of take a deep breath. relax. i just want to get this over and done with now. i hand him the bag as he hands me the money. and as i push the bag through the car, i notice that his eyes click over. his whole expression changes. it is like a fear panic.
he slammed his foot down on that accelerator so fast. he actually threw the bag out of the car. they were running up the road. i was thinking, these people are on their feet. and they are running after a car. how ridiculous. every single impression of i had them was right. because i could have been killed out there, and these guys, they are never going to catch this guy. i mean, what kind of an operation is this? and it was just a case of, i'm in serious trouble and these guys are not going to help me. we get into the car, and we leave the hotel. they take me to the police station.
there is a long corridor, then you have three four doors. i walk into the cell. they've got a mattress on a concrete slab and this is basically where i'm supposed to be sleeping. i remember thinking that the cockroaches in this country are on steroids, because i had never seen any so big before. one of the officers came to the gate. he was quite aggressive. and he said, do you know what you've done? you are responsible for killing our people. our children are taking this stuff. now you can just sit in this country for 45 years. my first few days in precell were horrible.
i cried a lot. i thought about my family a lot. i thought about home. i thought about the fact that i would never see anybody again. i don't have the capacity to deal with something like this. i just can't do it. on the third day, they let me speak to my sister. he dialed the number. he waited for my sister to answer. then he gave me the phone. that's when i said to my sister, i said, something went wrong. and i've been arrested. and she just kept saying, no, no, no, no, no. i'm so, so sorry. i remember that and i remember she was crying and i just kept telling her, i love you and i'm so sorry and i just don't know what to do.
i don't know. >> the whole conversation was just heart breaking, really. >> she cried so much. i really felt bad. >> i love you. >> i mean, i'm supposed to be the older sister. i'm supposed to be the role model. and i'm sitting in a police cell. what do you say to that? how do you even begin to answer questions? every month on the do you're like the poster child for paying on time. and then one day you tap the bumper of a station wagon. no big deal... until your insurance company jacks up your rates. you freak out. what good is having insurance if you get punished for using it? hey insurance companies, news flash. nobody's perfect. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident.
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one day an officer came to see me and they said that they found a suspect and they have to do an investigation parade and when i'm asked then he will be charged with trafficking. if i did not cooperate, it would be mentioned in court. it is not a question of whether you have a choice in the matter. the day before i had to do the id parade, a lady came and told me that she had gotten a message from the guy that i was supposed to pick up. >> if you know what is good for you, you will identify the man.
>> if i picked him up out of this lineup, then my life would be in danger. if i know what's good for me, i won't do it. i remember that it is not my country and that i'm a foreigner here. if you don't cooperate, you get a higher sentence. if you do cooperate, you could be killed by somebody. i don't know what is better, actually, death or 45 years. i watched movies where i know there is a screen and you stand behind it so they can't see you. what really happened, i think i still have nightmares about it, it is absolutely craziness. i mean, i had been given a message of how dangerous these people are. and i actually have to pick the suspect out from the crowd. they have a huge area there. it is open to the public. so any tom, dick or harry can
walk in there. i mean, if i recognize this guy, what would i have done. and how am i supposed to remember what he looks like. it is basically impossible. it was very, very dark on that street. it was maybe a 30-second meeting. i remember i was shaking. i was sweating. i was feeling sick. it was very hard not to throw up. i felt like i was actually going to pass out. so i'm out there in the open. somebody could just take a shot at my head and there is nothing that anybody will do about it. i think a case of paranoia has set in. because everybody was just staring at me. everybody was looking at me. it made me very uncomfortable.
i must have been in this yard for about 10, 15 minutes. but it felt like a lifetime. and nobody really cares what happens to you. because you are down there by yourself and that's it. i told the officers that i'm very sorry, i just -- i can't see anybody. i just can't see anyone. then one of the officers took me back downstairs again. he stopped in front of a room. and he said, do you see the man now? there was man standing there against the counter. and he had tan shoes on. quite ironic. because it was the same color of the shoes i had to wear. he said, you see, this is the man, this is the man. i looked at him and i just didn't recognize him. >> i don't think this is the guy. >> once i had been taken to the
main office, the i go was actually brought downstairs with his lawyer. as he winks and smiles, i saw a gold tooth and i remember the night in the car, when he smiled and said, hello, the gold tooth. so that kind of blew me away. the police officer said, you see, he is smiling because he's just gotten away with 45 years. it was just -- it was the man. but it's too late. i had already done the parade, i didn't identify him. so now there is nothing they could do anyway. he is out of there. it just keeps going through my head over and over again, i'm going to jail for 45 years. if you have moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis like me, and you're talking to your rheumatologist about a biologic... this is humira.
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it was very long for me because the only thing going through my head. we get out of the car, and this little bell on the outside, they ring that. somebody on the opposite side opens it. and they let you inside. you hear a lot of people shouting and screaming. i was already shaking. i think this might have just put me over the edge. i'm now really, really not well. i just didn't know how i was going to get through it.
all the programs that i've seen on prison, you just think of getting there and meeting this big fat woman that is going to turn you no her girlfriend, and i'm just not ready for that. as i put my foot into the block, the whole block just went silent. and everybody just looked at me. and you look to all these faces and you're just thinking, oh, my god. how am i going to survive? i felt like i'm a -- i could feel all the hair rising on my neck. all these eyes just dissecting me. it was horrifying. at the end of the evening of lockup, they come, and an officer told me that i would be sleeping in cell 1. i had -- there was a girl.
the other lady was a creole lady. i just kept thinking, how am i going to live here. and so, maybe two days i didn't stop crying. and nagma said to me, you know what, it is better for you to stop crying now because there is nothing you can do to change this. there are about 145 people in that prison. it's concrete. it's -- oh, it was disgusting, really. the cockroaches.
sometimes you even see a rat running around. it is just so unhygienic, i don't know how people survive in a place. it's horrible. it is terrible in that place. they walk in there like skeletons. and sometimes i used to sit there and say, you know, god, i'm glad that i got caught because i would never want to be responsible for something like this. this is what i brought to this country. this is what i do. i've seen girls crawl on all fours looking for a syringe. and they are hallucinating. and their eyes are the scariest thing about them because they say the eyes are the windows to the soul. when you look into these people's eyes, it is hollow underneath. i used to think that they are soulless. that they kill their soul.
i had been awaiting trial for a year and a half. when i started talking to other girls, i found out that at least five of them had been caught exactly the same way with heroin in their shoes and when talking about c.j., i also discovered that some of them knew c.j. and had been set up by him as well. we were decoys. it actually makes me angry that so many people have fallen into the same trap as me. he knew exactly what was in those shoes. i mean, this is heroin. i was so angry and upset with c.j. that moment that i really just wanted to kill him.
the first letter from my sister was really hard. i took the letter and stuck it underneath my nose and smelled it. the handwriting is something that she touched. to anybody else, it is just a letter. but it is like a piece of that person. and i cried. i cried that day. a lot. and she wrote, she did, she told me she loved me. but you know, it's -- nothing really they can do. i remember that she described the way that, for her, losing me was like losing my mom again. and to her i died because i'm not there any more. i kind of deserve it but my family don't. common side effect. that's why there's biotene. it comes in oral rinse, spray or gel,
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>> it became the case of, my life is already over. i've got nothing left. one morning, i went to go have a shower. i put soap on my hair. i have soap running down in my eyes. all of a sudden the water stops. for i scream to somebody to please close the tap. because there was a girl washing her clothes there. she just ignored when. and the more i talked to her the more she ignore me. i put the bottle in her face and she smacked the bottle. i punched her, she punched me, i punched her. and i started strangling her and
i didn't let go. everything that you do is for survival. i lost it. i was taken to solitude confinement. i got left out there. there's not a lot of people there. they have no seeing anybody. you go absolutely insane. absolutely insane. nobody even knows you. they forget about you. it has no bed and no windows. just four walls. yourself and that's it. sometimes i would scream for hours and hours and hours for someone to come open the door.
you could actually kill in a place like that very easily. you could. and you probably think better and not know you did it. it was hard to accept. but at the same time, i got one of the lowest sentences that had ever been handed down. a bible was actually very important thing for me. in psalms it talks a lot about people who suffer. i could relate a lot to what was said. how i felt at times. in prison, i was basically the person someone came to whenever they needed a letter written. whenever they wanted to know something about the laws. whenever they wanted to fight for something. writing letters was a way of hoping.
i didn't accept my situation. i was trying to make it better. trying to do something. i have a little vase of flowers in there. i have pictures of my mom. for me, photos were the most important thing that i had there, because it is the only way that you see your family. >> brigene. >> one day the lady who works in account called me downstairs. she brought up a piece of paper and made me sign. and she said to me, i'm going to fetch your money. i was bedazzled. she said, you know why, and i looked at her. and she said, you're going home. i was kind of shocked. it was kind of -- it was unbelievable. just a day in shock.
the the prison was pretty full. so before i knew it would be a i had everyone on top of me. it was an amazing feeling, really. and also hope for everybody. they have a superstition where they say you should never look behind you. because you come back if you say that. but i remember, i looked, i looked at the building. i looked at the place. i looked at the people. it is a different kind of air. it is almost like a heaviness is lifted off your shoulders because the entire time you're inside that place, you're not living. you just exist. and for the first time, in so many years, i felt like i'm awakening, my soul's alive. i know i'm going to be living
for the first time in eight years. it was the best time in my life. it was. it still is the best day of my life. i'm going home. to see everyone waiting there was more than i had expected. i hadn't seen my sister in eight years. she changed a lot. she had grown up. she is a woman now. i said nothing in life is easy. if something sounds too good to be true, it is. i learned to be -- i learned more about myself and what i want in life. not many things scare me any more.
and i can basically go wherever i want and do whatever i want because i'm free. due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. just had an assault with injuries to the inmate. >> after an inmate is assaulted. >> the blood came out when his head struck the floor. >> the jail identifies a suspect. >> he is a bully. he likes to prey on the weak. >> but the violence doesn't stop there. >> he sucker punched me. >> this ain't the t