Customs officials cannot decide who is more stubborn -- Pumla Caroline or the sole capsule lodged in her stomach for 14 days.
Desperate to remove and recover the last of 58 capsules, suspected to contain cocaine, from the 33-year-old South African woman’s stomach, doctors conducted an endoscopy on her on Monday. But the attempt failed.
The endoscopy was done at JJ hospital where Caroline has been detained with special permission from the court since she was intercepted on September 1.
The Customs had detained Caroline following information that she was smuggling cocaine into the country. Intercepted at 8.30 am on September 1 on her arrival from Sao Paulo (Brazil) via Dubai, she began ejecting the capsules a full 51 hours later, after putting up considerable resistance.
The department has more reason to worry as time goes by: the capsule may burst inside Caroline’s stomach.
It could even cause her death, Customs officials said, because the capsule
could have 10 to 20 grams of cocaine.
“Even one gram could be dangerous to the life of a non-addict,” an official said.
The department is now weighing its options.
A senior official said they would talk to doctors to decide the next course of action by Tuesday.
“We will seek medical opinion on whether surgery is the only solution now,” a senior official said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
For Caroline to undergo surgery, the department would have to get clearance from the South African consulate and from the woman herself.
The capsules cannot be sent for chemical analysis to verify if they contain cocaine unless the last one is retrieved because rules demand the consignment be sent as a whole.
The agency can arrest her only after a chemical analysis report proves she was carrying cocaine.