SA prisoners in Thailand want to be repatriated

Thailand invited countries to enter into an agreement to have foreign incarcerated citizens repatriated.

FILE. Thailand invited countries to an agreement to have foreign incarcerated citizens repatriated. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The relatives of South Africans in Thai prisons are pleading with government to allow their family members to serve out their sentences closer to 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 have written an open letter to Parliamentarians asking for government to enter into such an agreement.

Ben Botha (35) is currently serving a 25-year jail term in a Bangkok prison for a drug offence.

In a hand written letter, he expresses profound regret for the pain he's caused his family and begs the South African government to have empathy.

His mother Leonie Steenkamp said she can't afford to visit her son regularly and she has to send him money each month.

"It's our government's right or Constitutional right to bring them home to be closer to their families because it's costing us thousands of rands a month to feed our kids in a foreign prison."

The South African government is yet to respond.

To read the letters, _ click here_ and _ here_.