Molapisi’s goose was cooked when she arrived at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Bangladesh, on a Qatar Airways flight from South Africa, which came via Doha. Dressed in white and wearing a medical mask, Molapisi landed on a warm Sunday afternoon.
It was 23 January 2022. Unbeknownst to Molapisi, her arrival coincided with an alert that the airport was being used to smuggle narcotics.
Bangladesh authorities said customs officials and National Security Intelligence officers intercepted Molapisi in the “Green Channel” – the passage for arriving passengers with no goods to declare.
Molapisi’s luggage was searched and 3.146kg of heroin was found concealed inside. The Botswana national was promptly arrested.
At the time, Daily Star in Bangladesh quoted Sanuwarul Kabir, deputy commissioner of Customs as saying:
“We have information that cocaine is being smuggled but officials from the Department of Narcotics Control primarily confirmed that the seized item is heroin. We will send the samples for laboratory tests”.
Bangladesh has strict anti-drug laws, which prescribe the death penalty for anyone caught illegally cultivating, producing, transporting, exporting, or importing heroin, cocaine, and cocaine derivatives drugs in excess of 25 grams or milliliters.
Molapisi was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death. Reports from that country suggest her execution date has arrived.
Today the young woman from Botswana will reportedly be executed for trying to smuggle heroin worth millions in the international market.
Although The Bulrushes was yet to independently confirm Molapisi’s execution, people in Botswana posted videos of the convicted drug smuggler in happier times dancing and singing along to music at what looks like a club.
Strict anti-drugs laws in Asia
Molapisi’s execution is not uncommon for most Asian countries. The anti-drugs legal framework in the continent is tilted more towards crime control than due process, The laws are generally prohibitive with extreme punishments for convicted individuals.
Barely six months ago, a supposedly mentally incapacitated Malaysian man was executed in Singapore for smuggling heroin and dealing in dangerous drugs. The Malaysian drug smuggler has despite pleas for clemency because he was intellectually impaired.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was caught with about three tablespoons of heroin and was placed on death row since 2010. His case was highly controversial as he was assessed by a medical expert to have an IQ of 69 - a level that indicates an intellectual disability.
However, the government said he "clearly understood the nature of his acts". The authorities further argued that "he did not lose his sense of judgment of the rightness or wrongness of what he was doing".
In dismissing his last appeal, the Singaporian criminal court said Nagaenthran had been given "due process in accordance with the law", and had "exhausted his rights of appeal and almost every other recourse under the law over some 11 years".
Does the possession of three tablespoons of heroin warrant a punitive sanction of a death penalty? Let us have your thoughts on this latest development.