tv Locked Up Abroad MSNBC April 12, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
being free, you are capable of everything. the sky's the limit. you know, everything is in front of you. being behind bars, that's where you're stuck. 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 c.j. knew exactly what was in those shoes. i mean, this is heroin. you help us catch this guy or i go to prison for 45 years. i'm going do the sting operation. he reaches for something in the car.
this is literally where my heart stops. these guys are playing with 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 don't know what's better, death or 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 that was very hard to deal with. i had to look after her. she was like 16. i tried to set an example with
my sister. >> hey, come on. it's 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. it's pressure. you always feel like you're 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. >> hey. >> c.j. 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.
he tipped quite well as well. 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 a lot of questions about me, my family life, what i enjoyed in life. i did find it flattering, yes. he took my number as well. he used to phone me quite often after that. i think looking back at it now, c.j. definitely knew exactly what he was doing. the next time me and c.j. met, he was showing me pictures of mauritius. he had been to mature --
mauritius 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. let's do it. i should 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.
>> why? i mean, 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 has already promised me the whole thing, and the ticket is already paid for. so -- >> go have fun. go enjoy yourself. yeah, of course. >> c.j. then mentioned. >> i would 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. >> going to pick them up from you when you get to 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 bugging me 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. there were so many things going through my head. but 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 go 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 glad to be getting away from him. the strain is getting to me. it's a little bit edgy. i did phone my sister to say goodbye before i left. and she was like have fun. i miss you. i love you. take care of yourself. don't do anything naughty. i'll be back 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. they were smiling. everyone was just basically in such a good mood. just behind the customs against the wall, there was a group of people. there was 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 sweaty.
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. this is 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're playing this great exciting game and you just lose.
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straight away it was a case of can we have your shoes. turns them over and pushes this long crochet needle into the back of them. as he pulls it out, it has a white powder in it. i'm a bit shocked. my eyes are open. now i'm watching. and they pull the bottom of the sole off. and he takes out compressed blastic bags and it's stuck into the shoe where they've hollowed it out. he opens up the plastic and rubs the powder.
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 trouble. my whole life, i've heard how bad heroin is. it's the worst ever. and i'm carrying this stuff. i've never seen heroin in my life before, and i'm sitting with a mountain of the 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 leaving 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. they know that it's mauritian. >> 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.
yes. this is it. i'm going to do the sting operation. >> i guess so. >> i just want to go home. i just want to go home. i come out of the airport. i get led by one of the policeman who takes my suitcase and puts it in the back of a taxi. and he gets into the front and acts as the driver. and the rest 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 put my foot in that ocean. then c.j. phones.
[ ringing ] >> hey, c.j. >> he says to me, why did it take you to 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 niggle. he then said to me, i'm going to give you the name of another hotel. >> change hotels? >> hotel alm. 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. to phone. i feltner vows because i didn't know whether c.j. would realize this is a trap. >> hello? >> there is a police officer sitting next to me on the bed, and her head is pretty close to mine so she can hear everything is saying. and he says to me i should speak in afrikaans. 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 phone me. i'll just wait for him to call. >> bye. >> so they said, well, we wait. the atmosphere at this moment is definitely getting a bit more charged. i'm feeling tired. i'm feeling frustrated. i'm feeling fed up. i've just had enough now. [ ringing ] 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.
>> so he said to me i'll let 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 sure 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. let it loose, 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 definitely have no confidence in these guys. because they don't seem to be speaking too much on phones to other people. surely a sting operation should
have other people waiting. i'm terrified of the dark. 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 remember thinking what it's like in johannesburg. people walk up to your car windows 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. ♪
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i didn't feel very safe at all, at all, at all. 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 there is a woman next to him. then he bends down a little bit and reaches for something in the car.
and this is literally where my heart stops. i wondered, what's going on behind me. has he seen something. it was a 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 who's in the middle. and then all of the sudden i see a roll of notes in his hand. 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. that car flew. he actually threw the bag out of the car. they start running up the road. i remember thinking these people are on their feet, and they're running after a car. how ridiculous. every single impression i had of them was right. because i could have been killed out there, and these guys, they're never going to catch this guy. >> we have nothing now, man. nothing. >> 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've got three or 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 absolute hell. 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, yes, i love you, and i'm so sorry. and i just don't know what to do. >> i'm so sorry. 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? t score. yup, you have our discover it card so you get your fico® credit score on your monthly statements and online...for free. that's pretty cool of you guys. well we just want to help you stay on top of your credit and avoid surprises. good. i hate surprises. ahhhh ahhhh
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he'sthere's a guy out there whose making a name for himself in a sport where your name and maybe a number are what define you. somewhere in that pack is a driver that can intimidate the intimidator. a guy that can take the king 7 and make it 8. heck. maybe even 9. make no mistake about it. they're out there. i guarantee it. welcome to the nascar xfinity series. hi, richard lui with the hour's top stories for you. police in florida say a lamborghini that was part of an exotic car walt disney world attraction crashed into a guardrail today, killing a passenger and injuring the
driver. it's not immediately clear if the driver was a track employee or a customer. and hillary clinton is drivering to iowa after declaring in an online ad that she is running for president. clinton says she is in a van on the way to the state that holds the first in the nation presidential caucus. now back to "locked up abroad." one day my investigating officer came to see me, and he said to me that they have found a suspect, and they have 20 do an identification parade. and once i point him out, then le 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 identification parade, i had a
mauritian lady come and tell 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 won't 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 must remember the fact that it's 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'd watched movies where i know that 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. >> it's not him. >> i don't know. >> 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'd already done the identification parade. i hasn't identified him. so there is absolutely nothing they can 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. heroes charge!
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the journey to the prison was a very long one for me because there were so many things 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 she lets 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 through all these faces, and you're just thinking oh my soul. how am i going to survive? i felt like i'm a little speck of nothing. 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 at lockup, they'd come. and an officer told me that i would be sleeping in cell 1.
i had a muslim girl called nasima. >> hi. >> the other lady was a creole lady. i just kept thinking, how am i going to live here. until maybe two days later, i didn't stop crying. and nasima said to me, you know what? it's better you 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 filthy. oh, it was disgusting, really.
the bugs, the cockroaches. sometimes you even see a rat running around. it is just so unhygienic, i don't know how people survive in that place. it's horrible. the heroin addicts are 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 their 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's all hollow underneath. i used to think that they are soulless.
that they've killed their souls. 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. something that she touched. for anybody else, it's just a letter. but it's like a piece of that person. and oh, i cried. i cried that day. a lot. and she wrote -- she did -- she told me she loved me. but you know, it's -- there is there's nothing really they can do. i remember that she described the way that for her losing me was like losing my mom again. it felt like to her that i'd died, because i'm not there anymore. i kind of deserve it, but my family don't.
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for me, it became a case of, my life is already over. i've got nothing left to lose. one morning i went to go and have a shower. i put soap on my hair. i've got soap running down in my eyes. and all of a sudden, the water stops. can you turn the tap on, i can't wash my hair. i screamed to somebody to please close the tap because there was a girl washing her clothes there. i said, turn it off. she just ignored me. and the more i scream for her to open it the more she ignores me. didn't you hear something. my eyes are burning. i put the bottle in her face and she smacks the bottle. and i punched her. she punched me. i punched her. [ screaming ]
and then i just jumped in and started strangling here. and i just didn't let go. get off! get off! everything that you do is for survival. i lost it, definitely. i was taken to solitary confinement. i get led downstairs. there is not a lot of people there. there's no speaking to anybody. you go absolutely insane. absolutely insane. you don't really exist. nobody knows you exist. they forget completely about you. it's a cell that has no beds, and no windows. there's just four walls, yourself, and that's it. sometimes i'd scream at them for hours and hours and hours to come and open the door.
you could actually kill in a place like that, very easily. you could. and you would probably sleep better at night knowing you did it. seven years is a long time. it was -- it was hard to accept. but at the same time, i got one of the lowest sentences that had ever been handed down in the history of the place. a bible was actually a very important thing for me. in saums, 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 somebody 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 just sit there and accept my situation. i was trying to make it better, trying to do something. i'd have like a little vase of flowers in there. i had pictures of my mom. for me, photos were the most important thing that i had there because it's the only way that you see your family. >> bridgette. >> one day, the lady who works in accounts called me downstairs. she brought out a piece of paper and made me sign. and she says to me, i'm going to control your money. >> my money? >> i was a bit puzzled. and she says to me, you know why, hey. and i looked at her. she says you are going home. >> home? >> yes. >> i was kind of a shock. it was kind of -- it was
unbelievable. i just stood there in shock. it's spread across the prison pretty fast. so before i knew it, i had everyone on top of me. thank you. it was an amazing feeling, really. and it was 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's a different kind of air. it's almost like a heaviness has been lifted off your shoulders. because the entire time that you are inside that place, you are 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 day of my life. it was -- it still is the best day of my life. i'm going home. to see everyone waiting there, it was more than i expected. i hadn't seen my sister in eight years. she changed a lot. she had grown up. she's a woman now. i learned that nothing in life is easy, that if something sounds too good to be true, it is. i learned to be alone. i learned more about myself and what i want in life. not many things scare me
anymore. and i can basically go wherever i want and do whatever i want, because i'm free. this is just a bad dream. >> what do you do? >> i'm absolutely innocent. >> i'm american. >> i did not do this. >> i live in california. >> i've never tortured an american before. >> you're on death row, all because i said american.