Sheryl Cwele put on special leave

2011-05-10 13:00

The Hibiscus Coast Municipality has placed Sheryl Cwele, wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, on special leave after her conviction for drug dealing, a mayoral spokesperson said today.

“Mrs Cwele had returned to work yesterday (Monday) as it was her first day after her leave which she took ... to attend trial, however she was then informed that based on the seriousness of the case of which she has been convicted, whilst respecting the fact that she has appealed her conviction and sentencing, she is put on special leave,” Simon Soboyisa said.

Cwele and Nigerian national Frank Nabolisa were sentenced to 12 years in prison by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday for drug dealing.

She has appealed her conviction, and is out on R100 000 bail. Nabolisa is in custody and intends to appeal both the sentence and conviction.

“This leave is due to the fact that she has appealed and on the other hand the fact that the high court has convicted her for such a serious crime is material to the relationship she has with the municipality. Further action may obviously be taken once the appeal decision has been made.”

She was seen back at her office on Monday, where she is director of health services.

Meanwhile, the Right2Know campaign sent a request to President Jacob Zuma’s office asking that he say whether he knew that she was implicated in drug trafficking when he appointed her husband to his post in 2009.

And if so, it wants to know why Zuma did not refuse to reappoint him, or remove him from the post in the interests of national security.

The Independent on Sunday reported that Zuma and his predecessor Kgalema Motlanthe were aware of the investigation against Sheryl Cwele at the time of her husband’s reappointment.

“The Right2Know campaign calls on president Zuma to answer these questions publicly in the interests of national security and accountability in government,” the organisation said.

“If the president was not aware of these allegations, as leader of the majority party he should urgently reconsider the passage of the (secrecy bill) through parliament which has been spearheaded by Siyabonga Cwele and the ministry of state security.”

The controversial Protection of Information Bill seeks to classify information relating to organs of state and makes it a crime punishable with 25 years in prison to communicate top secret information.

Right2Know is one of the organisations opposed to it. Members of parliament are still working on finalising the bill.

Comment on the matter was not immediately available from the presidency or the state security minister’s spokesperson.

Cwele himself has not wanted to say anything about his wife’s conviction. Some opposition parties have called for his removal.

During the trial the pair had pleaded not guilty to dealing or conspiring to deal in drugs, procuring a woman, Charmaine Moss, to collect drugs in Turkey, and procuring another woman, Tessa Beetge, to smuggle cocaine from South America.

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