South African Man Receives Life Sentence for Cocaine Trafficking

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday handed down a life sentence to a South African man who entered the country with half a kilogram of cocaine valued at $90,000 in his stomach.

Presiding Judge Kim Rathnarin also imposed a fine of 40 million riel, or about $10,000, on Jacobus Dawie Botha for possessing, transporting and dealing drugs.

“What can I do? What they give you is all bullshit,” said Mr. Dawie Botha, 30, as he was escorted from the courtroom after the sentencing.

“It’s all about the money—that’s it. I’m definitely gonna appeal it because they lied to me when I was here the first time,” he said without explanation.

Mr. Dawie Botha was arrested at Phnom Penh International Airport in September after being caught with 587 grams of cocaine in capsules in his stomach. He flew out of Brazil, making it through transit flights to Dubai and Bangkok before his arrest in Cambodia.

During his hearing on April 10, Mr. Dawie Botha admitted to trafficking the cocaine, saying he was supposed to hand the drugs over to a Nigerian man he did not know at a guesthouse in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune.

He said during the hearing that he had been imprisoned in South Africa for five years for previous drug crimes.

Last year’s attempted smuggling was the first time he had brought drugs into Cambodia, he said, but he admitted to have previously trafficked drugs into South Africa from Pakistan.

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