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Stranded SA boys 'lucky to be alive'

Two children who wer left stranded on the streets of Brazil have now returned home.

FILE: Authorities receive the two kids who were repatriated from Brazil after their mother was arrested in Portugal for drug trafficking on 6 November 2014. Picture: Nomsa Mdhluli/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A former drug mule who was jailed in Brazil says two young South African brothers who returned home yesterday from that country, are lucky to be alive.

The boys aged seven and 13 have now been placed in foster care, after they were found living on the streets of Sao Paulo.

Their mother was arrested for drug trafficking in December last year in Portugal and has been in detention there since and leaving her children to fend for themselves.

Nombali Xundu says the city's streets are dangerous and crime infested.

She says it's a miracle the siblings survived on their own for almost a year.

Xundu says desperation led her to drug trafficking.

"My mother was suffering from kidney failure and I was the only child taking care of her."

She says she is still trying to deal with the trauma of her incarceration, a year after her release.

PRISONER TRANSFERS

There are calls for government to sign prisoner transfer agreements with other countries to make sure families stay together.

An NGO which deals with educating people on drug trafficking says it's been lobbying government for years.

Locked Up says it's estimating around 1,000 South Africans are in prison abroad due to drug trafficking

The organisation's Belinda West says under such an agreement, a detainee can apply to be repatriated to South Africa to serve their prison term here.

"They are then assisted back in their own culture in their own language and close to their own families that can take care of them during their incarceration."

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