Woman who helped convict Sheryl Cwele dies

2013-10-12 08:52

The mother of convicted drug mule Tessa Beetge has died in an East London hospital after a short illness.

Marie Swanepoel helped gather evidence that led to the conviction and sentencing of Sheryl Cwele, the ex-wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, the SABC reported yesterday.

In her testimony Swanepoel proved, through a series of e-mails and SMSs, that Cwele had sent Beetge to South America to courier 10kg of cocaine for Cwele and her co-accused Frank Nabolisa.

Cwele and Nabolisa pleaded not guilty to conspiring to deal in drugs, to procuring a woman, Charmaine Moss, to collect drugs in Turkey, and to procuring Beetge to smuggle cocaine from South America.

They were found guilty of drug dealing by the Pietermaritzburg High Court in May 2011. Both were sentenced to 12 years in jail each.

The Supreme Court of Appeal later increased their sentences to 20 years.

Nabolisa then approached the Constitutional Court, which ruled the State was required to officially appeal the sentences before they could be increased in the appeal court. Nabolisa’s original sentence of 12 years was reinstated.

In July, Cwele launched a similar Constitutional Court appeal. The Bench of 11 judges ruled her sentence be reduced in light of its findings in Nabolisa’s case.

Beetge is currently serving an eight-year jail sentence in Sao Paolo, Brazil. She was arrested in that country in 2008.

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