Prove it: Cwele denies trafficking cocaine

2010-02-03 00:00

SHERYL Cwele (49) has denied ever “knowingly” participating in drug trafficking or related charges and has demanded that the state should locate the cocaine she is alleged to have dealt in so that she can determine “if it is in fact cocaine”.

In an affidavit in support of her bail application, to be heard on Friday, Cwele — who is married to State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele — said that when she asked, through her legal representative, that the cocaine in question be made available for testing, the state’s response was that it “must be somewhere in Brazil”.

“It is clear that the state has not even seen the alleged cocaine, let alone tested it to ensure that it is in fact cocaine,” she said.

Cwele said she is concerned that the state has decided to charge her and tell the court that it is ready to proceed to trial when it may “well be obliged to retrieve the substance, which may no longer be in existence, from Brazil”.

“It is not in the interests of justice to keep me in custody when the state still has to go hunting for cocaine,” she added.

Cwele, director of health and community services with the Hibiscus Coast Municipality, faces charges of dealing in 9,2 kg of cocaine between May 2 and June 13, 2008, and of conspiring to deal. She faces two additional charges for inciting Charmaine Moss and Tessa Beetge to deal in cocaine.

The women were allegedly to be used as “mules” to traffic drugs internationally, but Moss declined to get involved. Beetge, a mother of two, was arrested for smuggling cocaine and is serving an eight-year jail sentence in Sao Paulo.

Cwele is charged alongside a Nigerian, Frank Nabolisa (41), who will appear in the high court in Pietermaritzburg on February 12 on the same charges.

She was arrested last Friday. The state is opposed to giving her bail.

In her affidavit filed at the court yesterday, she details her association with Nabolisa, Beetge and Moss whom she describes as “close acquaintances or friends, which ever way one looks at it”.

Cwele complains in her affidavit that a large portion of the investigation docket given to her in the case is in Portuguese, and said that by putting allegations against her in Portuguese the state acted unconstitutionally.

Cwele states that she met “Frank” through a former work acquaintance, Nikkie, who had told her that she was “in love with a married man called Frank who was a millionaire”.

Beetge was Cwele’s former neighbour, while Moss had worked at a massage parlour and massaged her feet. She (Cwele) later “connected” the two women to Frank after he sought her help to look for “white persons” (preferably females) to head his company, said Cwele.

Cwele said that after Beetge’s divorce, she had asked for help in finding employment — which was when she had connected Beetge to Frank and Nikkie.

“I felt sorry for her, as she cast a pitiful figure indeed,” said Cwele.

Cwele alleged that Beetge told her not to tell her (Beetge’s) parents that she was going to work in Johannesburg, for Frank, but in London.

Cwele said Beetge lied about her academic qualifications and when Frank found out she had a standard 7 and not a matric he was “furious”. When she found out that Beetge was going overseas to work for Frank, it was a surprise “because Frank had dubbed Tessa useless”.

Cwele said Beetge started to communicate with her from South America. At one stage Beetge told her she was looking for other work and asked her to give her a “false reference” by telling anyone who phoned that she was Cwele’s personal assistant and earned R10 000.

Later Beetge revealed that she was “fed up” and wanted to come home.

Cwele said she had expressed her “deep concern” to Frank that “a person who had left her parents through me appeared to be stranded in a foreign land”.

Cwele said Frank claimed he could not contact Beetge, but she (Cwele) did not trust him and suspected there was “something amiss”.

To get Beetge out of a “desperate situation”, she suggested to Frank that he could communicate with Beetge via her. “He obliged and I then served as a conduit between the two of them,” said Cwele.

When she later learnt that Beetge had been arrested for drugs , she was devastated, said Cwele.

“I never imagined that Tessa could be associated with drugs. I did not know how I could face her parents thereafter.”

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