Beetge’s parents blame Sheryl Cwele

2009-03-20 00:00

“I’m very cross and upset. Although Tessa has asked us to forgive her, I don’t need to if she [Sheryl Cwele] is doing this to other people as well. I cry every day and all I want is my child back home,” Tessa Beetge’s distraught mother, Marie Swanepoel, said this week.

Gert and Marie Swanepoel spoke to South Coast Fever newspaper about their 31-year-old daughter’s arrest in Brazil for drug smuggling, her incarceration for the last 10 months and her connection with Cwele, Hibiscus Coast Municipality’s director of health and community services.

“We put our faith in [Cwele] and believed what she told us … and now this has happened. It’s upsetting,” Gert said.

Beetge was arrested at Sao Paulo airport en route to Johannesburg with nine kilograms of raw cocaine worth R3 million.

Her parents believe their daughter was a scapegoat. “I don’t believe she could do it. How would she have the contacts?” Marie Swanepoel said. The couple have records of all communication between Cwele and Beetge — 30 detailed text messages between May 2 and 29, 2008.

Marie Swanepoel spoke of her rushed trip to Brazil in September with her nephew, Richard Olsen, and how they were stunned by Beetge’s condition. “She was thin and her eyes were sunken in.”

Olsen said Tessa felt very hurt. “She wanted the people responsible — Sheryl and Frank [Cwele’s ‘brother’] — to pay.”

The Swanepoels have tried all avenues to help get their daughter home. “We have had the Scorpions working on the case and Foreign Affairs, but to date we still don’t know what is going on.”

According to reports, Beetge and Cwele are linked through countless e-mails, SMSes and prison letters. Beetge’s family say she was offered an overseas job by Cwele.

In 30 detailed text messages last May, Cwele makes flight, collection and visa arrangements for Beetge, talks to Beetge about a business venture, orders her to pack warmly and offers her own “good luck” coat for the trip, tells her she will receive R25 000, and puts her in touch with her brother “Frank” in Johannesburg. In letters to her parents Beetge consistently implicates Cwele. The Sunday Times, which broke the story, reported that Cwele is under investigation.

This week, Cwele took leave, and was impossible to contact. However, she told the Sunday Times that a friend of Beetge’s organised the trip, and Beetge asked Cwele to pretend to her parents that she had arranged it by making up SMSes to show Beetge’s parents.

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