The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) says it is aware of the imprisonment of Ashley Oosthuizen (22), from George in the Western Cape, who was convicted on drug charges in Thailand.
Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela says the department as well as the South African embassy in Bangkok are providing Oosthuizen and her family with consular assistance.
Oosthuizen left South Africa in 2018 to teach abroad and was imprisoned in 2020 when she was arrested after signing for a package allegedly belonging to her boyfriend which contained drugs.
She was working at her boyfriend’s restaurant when she signed for the package and was subsequently arrested in a sting operation by Thai authorities. She was later found guilty.
A petition to help free Oosthuizen is gaining momentum under the hashtag FreeAshley after her plight came to light recently. Oosthuizen received the death penalty which was later commuted to a life sentence for a drug offence.
In social media posts, her friends and family claim Ashley was wrongly imprisoned, and instead her boyfriend at the time, who allegedly fled Thailand and is back in his home country of the United States, should be in prison.
A post purportedly written by her boyfriend has circulated where he admitted to being a drug smuggler and claimed Ashley was innocent.
In a statement, Dirco said our government is not in a position to intervene in any legal aspects, court hearings and judicial processes in a foreign country.