Security minister, drug dealer wife split
Pietermaritzburg - Disgraced former director for health and community services at Hibiscus Coast Municipality and convicted drug dealer, Sheryl Cwele, is now officially divorced from her husband, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
The Witness has established that the divorce, which follows hot on the heels of 50-year-old Sheryl's cocaine trafficking conviction in May this year, was granted by Judge Trevor Gorven in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on August 23.
According to the application papers, the minister had “lost all love and affection” for his wife and wished to be divorced from her.
Court documents revealed the couple had not lived together as husband and wife since 2000 after getting married in 1985.
This contradicts Cwele’s denial at her bail hearing in February 2010 that she is estranged from her husband.
In an apparent bid to allay rumours that they had split up at the time, the minister attended the bail application flanked by his bodyguards.
He sat directly behind his wife in the dock, but she did not turn to look at him and he did not speak to her.
Sheryl Cwele’s lawyer, Mvuseni Ngubane, strongly denied an allegation in an affidavit by the investigating officer, Superintendent Izak Ludick, that Cwele had failed to disclose that she and her husband had lived apart since at least 2005.
Ludick alleged that Cwele had told State witness Charmaine Moss, who she had attempted to recruit as a drug mule, that her husband had had an extramarital relationship.
Ngubane said that although the couple’s alleged estrangement was reported in the media, it was a “made-up story” and “didn’t exist”, pointing out that the minister was in court to support his wife.
He also submitted the entire Cwele family had gone on a family holiday to Mozambique during December 2009.
At the time of Cwele’s conviction and sentencing in May this year the asset forfeiture unit gave notice that it intended to pursue a confiscation order against both her and her co-accused, Frank Nabolisa, who was found to have been in charge of the enterprise of importing cocaine into South Africa from abroad.
Cwele and Nabolisa were each sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment, but are set to appeal the verdict.
No date has been set for the appeal, which is likely to be heard next year.
The divorce documents cited an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between Sheryl and Siyabonga Cwele as the reason for their divorce.
The documents stated the couple’s marriage had “reached a state of such disintegration” that no reasonable prospect existed for the restoration of normal marital life.
The documents continued that the parties “have never lived together since 2000” and that Siyabonga Cwele had lost all love and affection for his wife.
A settlement agreement by the parties stipulated that they will each exclusively retain all personal belongings, including their motor vehicles.
Sheryl Cwele is entitled to half of her ex-husband’s interest in his public office bearers’ pension fund and retirement annuity held by Sanlam (according to its worth on the date of their divorce).
He in turn is entitled to half of her pension in the Natal Joint Municipal Provident Fund and Liberty Life Annuity Fund.
It was also revealed that the home in which Sheryl Cwele lives in Berea Road in Port Shepstone is registered in both her and her husband’s names.
He has undertaken to pay her R500 000 in respect of the property within the next two years in instalments of at least R7 000 per month plus interest at 12.5% per annum.
• Sheryl Cwele was arrested on January 29 last year on charges of drug trafficking.
In May Judge Pete Koen found that she and Nabolisa had been the masterminds behind a plot to smuggle cocaine into South Africa using South Coast women Tessa Beetge and Charmaine Moss as drug mules.
In her affidavit supporting her bail application soon after her arrest, Sheryl Cwele put a value of R1.2m on the Port Shepstone property, and said she owned an Audi bought in 2008 for R250 000.
Her net monthly income was R29 000 per month at the time.