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South Africans imprisoned in Thailand want to come home

South Africans incarcerated in Thailand pleaded with government to consider a prisoner transfer agreement.

The Thai government has extended an invitation to all foreign embassies who have citizens incarcerated in Thailand to enter into an agreement that would enable citizens to be repatriated. Picture: Stock.XCHNG.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans incarcerated in Thailand are pleading with the government to consider a prisoner transfer agreement that would allow them to serve out the remainder of their prison sentences at home.

The Thai government has extended an invitation to all foreign embassies who have citizens incarcerated in Thailand to enter into an agreement that would enable citizens to be repatriated.

To date 37 countries have accepted this invitation.

Eleven South Africans, mostly drug mules, have hand written notes from Thai prison cells begging for a second chance to return home to jails close to their loved ones.

Businessman Henk Vanstaen, who is assisting the prisoners, has sent their pleas in an open letter to South Africa's Members of Parliament.

He says this humanitarian gesture would allow prisoner's families access to them.

"They are isolated in Thailand and their families can't afford to go see them."

The Correctional Services Department is yet to respond to queries about this plea.

At the same time, the South Africans say allowing them to serve out their sentences at home would be a humanitarian gesture that would save the government in Thailand money.

In the written notes many of the South Africans acknowledge they're guilty and express remorse and regret.

They plead for a second chance and the opportunity to serve out their sentences at home, close to their families.

However, the bid is unlikely to succeed as South Africa is one of the few countries that doesn't have any such prisoner transfer agreements.