Beetge ‘did not look surprised’ at being arrested

2010-10-19 00:00

SOUTH Coast drug mule Tessa Beetge “did not look surprised” when a special agent assigned to combat drug trafficking in Brazil confronted her at Sao Paulo airport as she was about to board a flight home on Friday, June 13, 2008, and asked her to accompany him.

In a private room, Beetge’s suitcase was unlocked in her presence and the agent — Jean Carlos de Bortole — discovered a smaller bag inside.

Through a “small hole” he observed a “white powder” that looked like cocaine, he said.

Beetge was immediately taken to the local police station where her luggage was fully inspected.

A substance — which was tested and positively found to be cocaine — was found inside three rolls of carbon paper contained in the small bag, which had three divisions.

More “powder” was found inside four packets of coffee and two packets of sweets concealed among Beetge’s clothing.

Brazilian police seized just over 10 kilograms of cocaine from Beetge’s luggage, the agent told high court Judge Piet Koen and his assessor, Gerhard Barnard.

De Bortole is one of three Brazilian officials who journeyed to South Africa to testify at the trial of Sheryl Cwele and Frank Nabolisa, who have pleaded not guilty to dealing in cocaine and inciting Beetge and Charmaine Moss to deal in drugs between May and June 2008.

Testifying through a Portuguese interpreter, De Bortole said that when he passed Beetge’s suitcase through an X-ray machine at Sao Paulo he detected “something organic” inside.

Beetge’s name was on the ticket, which also revealed that the baggage had come from Lima, Peru, and was destined for Johannesburg.

He stopped Beetge as she was about to board her South African flight and asked her to go with him.

Asked by Judge Koen whether Beetge showed any surprise when he confronted her, he said “No”.

Under cross-examination by Cwele’s advocate, Mvuseni Ngubane, De Bortole said he did not know if Beetge pleaded guilty at her trial in Brazil as he “did not hear her”, but he was aware that she had been sentenced to seven years and nine months’ imprisonment.

Chemical analyst Carolina Braga, who works for the Brazilian federal police, said she examined two samples of “powder”, which according to a preliminary report were seized at Sao Paulo airport from Tessa Beetge.

Her analysis showed the substance was indeed cocaine. A colleague confirmed her findings.

The third Brazilian witness, Denison Maia, was not called to testify.

Judge Koen earlier urged the state to consider having Beetge testify on a video-link from Brazil.

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