South Africans are gripped by the story of a 22-year-old South African woman from George who is serving a life sentence in a Thai prison for drug smuggling.
News of the horrific fate of the South African has been widely reported in the past week after a man who claimed to be her boyfriend at the time of her arrest issued a lengthy statement to the George Herald claim that Ashley Oosthuizen is not guilty of the crimes of which she is accused.
According to the publication, Oosthuizen was 19 years old when she started a job as a teacher on the island of Koh Samui.
Here she met a 32-year-old American teacher from another school on the island, Tristan Nettles.
On February 15, 2022, Nettles sent a statement to the George Herald, via Facebook, about a 22-year-old imprisoned in Thailand for crimes he and others committed.
In the lengthy statement, he explained that while he was a high school science teacher at a leading international school on the island, he made most of his money selling party drugs to expats.
Oosthuizen eventually lost her job at the Oonrak International School as a kindergarten teacher because she did not have the necessary qualifications for the position.
According to Nettles, work politics led to another teacher complaining about Ashley’s lack of a four-year degree, forcing the school to let her go.
This was when he offered her a job as a manager at his restaurant Hot in the Biscuit. Nettles says he taught Ashley how to run the business and even signed much of the restaurant to her name.
On October 8, 2020, Oosthuizen’s exciting island life turned into a nightmare after he signed a package on behalf of someone else.
According to Nettles, the package contained 250g of MDMA (Ecstasy) and Ashley was completely unaware of the contents of the package.
Before opening the restaurant, Nettles had the drug packages shipped to the school where he worked, but after moving to Ukraine to begin his medical studies, he had to find another place to send the packages.
Oosthuizen was arrested within 10 minutes of signing the package delivered to the restaurant and she has been in jail ever since.
Monyela also told the publication that the department, as well as the SA embassy in Bangkok, provides Ashley and her family in South Africa with the standard consular assistance applicable in such cases. This after Blignaut’s… George Herald that the South African embassy in Thailand did not show much interest in her daughter’s case.
Speaking to AfriNuus, Oosthuizen’s mother, Lynn Blignaut said the only cooperation they received from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) was to make sure that Ashley’s prison bill was paid, and to arrange for her to would contact her.
Blignaut was finally able to speak to her daughter on the phone for 15 minutes after months of no communication on Friday.
“Ashley is in excellent health because He supports and cares for her in every way. Without the mercy and grace of God, we could not stand so strong every day. We can now only wait for her next profession,” Blignaut told the George Herald.
Oosthuizen was initially given the death penalty, but after an appeal the sentence was changed to life imprisonment (25 years).
Her family has filed an appeal.
Under the hashtag FreeAshley, a petition to help liberate Oosthuizen is gaining momentum.
Ashley’s mother and father, André Oosthuizen, have asked the public not to deposit money on crowdfunding sites allegedly created for their daughter.
They have opened a trust fund account where donations are kept safe and used for legal fees and all other costs associated with returning their daughter to South Africa safely.
Curated by Xanet Scheepers