“I realise what they did to me in there. How they turned me into a savage, only half human,
bathing in a trough and eating food fit for animals and locking me in a cage every night.”
– Vanessa Goosen, Drug Muled

It’s 1994. South Africa is on the brink of freedom.

On the verge of a big break in modelling, Miss SA finalist, 21-year-old Vanessa Goosen is caught up in every traveller’s nightmare. Duped into carrying books with 1.7 kilograms of heroin hidden in them, Goosen is arrested and tried on drug trafficking charges. Deaf to her pleas of innocence, the Thai courts sentence Goosen to death. On appeal her sentence is commuted to life, to be served in Bangkok’s notorious Lard Yao prison.

Pregnant, terrified and desperately alone, Goosen begins a harrowing 16-year journey behind bars. Forced to part with her beloved daughter three years later, Goosen’s story traces the joy and hurt of motherhood behind bars, the depression that comes with long-term incarceration and separation, and her return to a hugely changed South Africa in 2010.

“SA drug mule ‘was bait’” – Daily News, October 2012

“Dreadlock drug mule gets 15 years” – The Times, June 2012

“Another SA woman bust in Asia with drugs” – Sowetan, August 2012

“SA drug mule facing death penalty” News24, August 2012

At least 660 South Africans are languishing in foreign jails, convicted of drug-trafficking. And the steady stream of drug smugglers continues, 27 South Africans being caught and imprisoned abroad last year alone. We see their stories slashed across the headlines, we condemn their stupidity, we wonder what drove them to it. But what happens when, among all those numbers, there are just a handful of innocents swept up in the tide? Is there any hope for justice for these people? And if there isn’t, what becomes of them behind bars?

Read the gripping true story of Vanessa Goosen, who never gave up on freedom, but only tasted it again after 16ó years.

Shocking, moving and eye-opening, it brings the reader uncomfortably close to the reality of a foreign jail.

Written by Joanne Joseph


ISBN: 978-1-920601-20-1 | Trade Paperback | World Rights | 235x155mm | 212pp | 2013


ISBN: 978-1-920601-24-9 | Trade Paperback | World Rights | 235x155mm | 212pp | 2013


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