Tessa Beetge arrives secretly in SA

2014-03-27 10:06

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Convicted drug mule Tessa Beetge returned to South Africa this morning in a cloud of secrecy. Beetge, who was one of the pillars in the conviction of intelligence minister Siyabonga Cwele’s former wife, was bundled away from the large contingent of awaiting media.

Family members told City Press that Beetge was now with a friend.

Her aunt, Margie Olsen, arrived with a bouquet of yellow flowers to welcome back her niece, but was just as confused as reporters when Beetge did not exit through the usual OR Tambo international arrivals hall.

“I don’t think she has been detained,” Olsen said. “I’m sure she slipped away because she did not want to face this.”

She later confirmed that Beetge had slipped out through another entrance and was now staying with a good friend.

Olsen was unhappy about Beetge’s non-entrance, saying that family members had been robbed of a reunion.

Police at the airport also denied that Beetge was detained.

Beetge’s father, Swannie Swanepoel, was also waiting in the arrivals hall earlier, but disappeared about half- an-hour before her arrival. It is believed that he met Beetge privately at the airport.

Also rumoured to be involved in the private reunion was a producer from SABC’s Special Assignment.

Earlier this month, Beetge was released on parole from a Brazilian jail after five-and-a-half years after serving almost six years of her 12-year sentence. She was found with 10.2kg of cocaine in her luggage at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport in 2008.

The intelligence minister’s ex-wife, Sheryl Cwele, recruited Beetge to smuggle cocaine from South America in 2008. Beetge’s evidence while in prison in Brazil helped to secure the conviction of Cwele and her co-accused Frank Nabolisa. They were found guilty of drug dealing by the Pietermaritzburg High Court in May 2011.

The two tried to have their convictions overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2012, but the court increased their sentences from 12 years to 20 years.

However, after launching a Constitutional Court appeal, their sentences were reduced to 12 years.

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