‘I made a big mistake’

2010-10-12 00:00

SOUTH Coast beautician Charmaine Moss testified yesterday that she made a “big mistake” by putting her trust in her friend Sheryl Cwele, who is on trial in the high court with Nigerian Frank Nabolisa for trafficking in cocaine.

Moss said Cwele told her she had recommended her to an agency that previously found Cwele work overseas, because she had a “dream” that God wanted her to.

Cwele, the wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, told Moss she worked overseas “16 or 17 times” for the same agency after her husband had left her in 2005.

It was arranged for Moss to fly to Johannesburg and on to Turkey, once she had obtained her visa. At first Moss said she did not ask questions about the agency, the work she was to do, or salary of R25 000 (for two weeks’ work) that Cwele said she would be paid.

Cwele mentioned she might work in a health spa, be a caregiver or do administrative work.

”I trusted my friend — later I realised I made a big mistake,” she told Judge Piet Koen and assessor Gerhard Barnard.

Moss said she first heard of Nabolisa’s involvement while on her way to fly to Johannesburg. Cwele referred to Nabolisa as her “brother” and explained to Moss that he was a partner in the agency offering jobs overseas, she said.

Cwele and Nabolisa — who greeted each other with smiles and sat close together in the dock, occasionally whispering to one another — pleaded not guilty to a charge that they dealt in 9,2 kg of cocaine between May 2 and June 13, 2008; alternatively to having conspired to do so.

They also pleaded not guilty to two charges of having incited Moss and another South Coast woman, Tessa Beetge, to deal in drugs.

State advocate Ian Cooke said Beetge — who was arrested in possession of cocaine at Sao Paulo airport on June 13, 2008 and is in prison — was not permitted by Brazil to fly to South Africa to testify.

However, the state will seek to admit a written statement by her into evidence.

The federal agent who arrested Beetge will give evidence, as will two Brazilian officials, Carolina Braga and Denison Maia, who examined the substance seized from Beetge to confirm that it was indeed cocaine.

It was suggested by Cwele at her bail hearing that the state has no proof that the substance concerned is cocaine.

Moss testified that she decided to abandon the work offer by Cwele and Nabolisa after Nabolisa had told her she was “asking too many questions” and slapped her across the mouth the day before she was due to fly to Turkey.

She said she started to ask questions after becoming “nervous” because Nabolisa drove her through a seemingly “bad” area in Johannesburg.” Something told me I was in the wrong place,” said Moss.

Cwele subsequently explained her job was to bring a parcel back from Turkey for “Frank”, but she did not accept. Nabolisa took her to the airport and paid for her flight home, she said.

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