Ashley Oosthuizen (23), a former pupil of Outeniqua High School in George, was sentenced to life in prison on 18 August 2021 after signing at a restaurant where she worked for a courier packet containing drugs. Ashley claimed she didn’t know what was in the package when she signed for it. Thai authorities arrested her moments after, in October 2020, on international drug trafficking charges.
AfriNUUS earlier reported on her ex-boyfriend, who is currently in Ukraine, who claims to be fully responsible for the drug parcel, which contains MDMA. However, this did not convince the Thai authorities, and he fled the country.
Her sentence was shortened last year to 33 years, from life (for the rest of her life). However, she decided to appeal the court ruling.
Left it there. AfriNUUS spoke tuesday morning to Lynn Blignaut, Ashley’s mother, who is currently staying in Thailand to be closer to her daughter.
Ashley will spend her third birthday behind the Thai jail cells next month, on March 3, since her arrest.
However, with more than 90% of Thailand’s population being Buddhists, this does not stop Blignaut from joining a Christian church community in Thailand and learning the Thai language.
Photo: Blignaut at a local church / Supplied
AfriNUUS posed the following questions to Blignaut:
1. How is Ashley in jail? What is she all doing?
“Ashley is doing well, under the circumstances in which she finds herself. She is healthy, she stands strong and is focused. She has a testimony every week where she participates in group discussions. She also teaches new dance moves and works in the prison’s library.”
Blignaut says that Ashley can already speak and write fluent Thai, and that she has now bought herself a book where she can also learn to speak French.
Photo: Ashley Oosthuizen / Supplied
2. How many times a week can you visit Ashley? Can you already see her in person (like giving a hug or is it still behind a glass window)?
“I can visit her twice a week, but still behind a glass window.”
Blignaut says that she trusts that within the next 2 – 3 months she will have the opportunity to finally see Ashley in person to be able to make physical contact with her.
“Currently, the prison guards are still strict with the rules and protocols in place, and visitors are still required to wear masks due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Initially, visitors, like her, had to bring doctor’s letters to prove they had tested negative for the coronavirus, but the measure was removed over time.
3. How is the appeal application progressing?
“The appeal case could take another year. Nobody really knows, so we just take it day by day and do what we can every day to follow all the procedures.”
Blignaut further confirmed that they have lawyers in Thailand who assist with the appeals process and Ashley’s legal affairs.
4. What work do you currently do, while in Thailand, and how do you spend your leisure time?
“Since I don’t have a work permit in Thailand, I don’t currently work here. I do have an extension in my visa that gives me more time to spend with my daughter.”
Blignaut further confirmed that in between all legal matters, she is doing her Thai studies where she learns to speak the language, and also runs her business in South Africa. She also spends quite a bit of time in the legal process with Ashley having its own challenges.
“It’s not all obvious as one might think. Everything takes its time, and it takes longer than it normally would take.”
She also now spends time learning Thai as a language, as there are so many people who speak Thai. Blignaut says that she also wants to know what people are saying when they speak the language and so that she can express herself clearly when communicating with people.
“It’s not as simple as any other language. It’s a very difficult language to understand, and everything that comes with it. But, nothing is impossible.”
About leisure time, Blignaut says she doesn’t have a lot of time to be able to do what she wants.
“I did start jogging again after almost 7 years and found a pool that I can now train in regularly.”
Blignaut relates that she realized that “if you don’t look at yourself, you can’t look at your girl child either.”
She is further involved with the local Christian church in the area.
According to research by AfriNUUS, there are only 1,13% of the population of Thailand who practice Christianity as a religion, while Buddhism is practiced under 93,46% of the population, and 5,37% practice the Islamic faith.
5. Is there still a fund to support Ashley, and if so, what are the details?
Yes, there is a non-profit organization, Hearts4Ashley, which is used exclusively for Ashley’s legal fees. It is registered with FNB in South Africa.
  • Hearts4Ashley NPC
  • FNB 
  • Garden Route Mall
  • Business Account
  • Account Number: 629 3970 9020
  • Branch: 250069
  • Swift Code: FIRNZAJJ
PayPal account: Hearts4Ashley
6. We’ve seen Ashley issue a few poems over the past few weeks on the platform “A Voice For Ashley Oosthuizen” (from how it feels behind the jail cells to a Valentine’s message). Does she write more stories in prison?
“It’s not really poetry. She started a blog when she was a high school student and she recently decided that this is what she now feels she needs to do, with what she has in her heart and hand.”
“It’s just Ashley,” Blignaut said. “She gets on with her blogging. It’s just a little bit different than she would have done in the past”.
Photo: A voice for Ashley Oosthuizen / Facebook
Photo: A voice for Ashley Oosthuizen / Facebook
Photo: A voice for Ashley Oosthuizen / Facebook
7. In what prison is she now being held?
She is still in the same jail, Nakhon Si Thammarat Central Prison in southern Thailand, after which she was transferred on December 29, 2021.
8. How long do you (Lynn) plan to stay overseas?
“I’ll stay here as long as I can,” Blignaut said. “I can’t see myself going home [back to South Africa], except when there isn’t any other option.”
Earlier in the post, Blignaut recounted that she was at least granted a visa extension.
9. Do you receive any help from Dirco side?
“South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) continues to provide consular assistance,” Blignaut said.
Photo: A voice for Ashley Oosthuizen / Facebook
AfriNUUS learns that there is currently no extradition agreement between Thailand and South Africa, which means that she will not be able to serve her sentence in South Africa.