Every scene in the movie Brokedown Palace, about two American women arrested for drug smuggling in Thailand, sent shivers of fear and emotion through my body. An ordeal beyond my thinking. One that has flashed unpredictably through my mind over the years. I couldn’t unsee what I had seen. One mistake. Such a price to pay.
That was just a movie.
Yet for Johannesburg born Alexander ‘Shani’ Krebs it became a reality when he was arrested in Bangkok a day before our first Democratic elections, at the age of 34. Caught trying to smuggle 1,2 kg of heroin into South Africa, Shani was sentenced to death for drug trafficking by the Thai court. This sentence was later reduced to 100 years after he pleaded guilty to the crime.
For Shani a miracle happened, when after serving 18 years in Bangkok’s Bang Kwang Prison, said to be one of the world’s worst prisons (- referred to by inmates as the ‘Bangkok Hilton’), he was released home in May last year after the King of Thailand granted amnesty to foreigners serving drug-related sentences. At the time he was the longest-serving ‘farang’ or foreigner at Bang Kwang – and in his early 50’s.
On Wednesday 17th September, for one night only, Shani Krebs will be in Cape Town at The Labia Theatre, sharing his story, aptly titled ’Life Inside the Big Tiger’. I look forward to hearing about the strength it must have taken to survive this, about the lessons learnt, the self-reflection and subsequent reintegration into the new and very different South Africa. This is no movie, this is Shani Krebs’ life.
An evening and opportunity not to be missed. Seats can be booked with Maurice Levin. Seating is limited. Price R150.00. Times from 6-8pm. Bookings can be made with email@example.com or 082 65287 00 See you there!
Mistakes often have consequences, but not many as dire as this.