Sheryl Cwele: the time line

2012-10-02 00:00

January 29, 2010: Sheryl Cwele, wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, is arrested. She and Nigerian Frank Nabolisa, arrested in December 2009, face charges of dealing in more than 10 kilograms of cocaine found in the luggage of South Coast drug mule Tessa Beetge at Sao Paulo airport, Brazil, on June 13, 2008.

February 5, 2010: Cwele is granted R100 000 bail. Nabolisa remains in custody.

October 11, 2010: Cwele and Nabolisa’s trial begins.

March 8, 2011: Cwele’s advocate applies for a discharge, but the judge rejects the application.

March 9, 2011: Cwele and Nabolisa elect not to testify in their defence and close their cases without leading any evidence.

March 16, 2011: The prosecution maintains the circumstantial evidence against Cwele and Nabolisa — consisting of phone calls, e-mails and SMSes — as well as oral evidence presented at their trial, paints an “overwhelming” picture of their guilt.

May 4, 2011: Judgment is put on hold following a last-ditch bid by the state to lead further evidence to close a potentially crucial loophole in its case.

May 5, 2011: The judge denies the state’s application to re-open the case, but convicts Cwele and Nabolisa, who both receive 12-year sentences. They indicate they will appeal their convictions.

May 9, 2011: Cwele, out on bail pending the appeal, returns to her job as director of health and community services at the Hibuscus Coast Municipality. A special council meeting held the next day decides to suspend her on full pay with immediate effect.

July 17, 2011: Cwele takes the Hibiscus Coast Municipality to the Labour Court over the non-payment of her salary.

July 28, 2011:

A disciplinary hearing rules against Cwele on a charge of misconduct and she is fired the next month.

September 14, 2011: Cwele (50) and her husband, who married in community of property in Pietermaritzburg on October 12, 1985, are divorced.

May 3, 2012: Cwele and Nabolisa appeal their convictions before the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. The state says they should serve the minimum 15 years’ jail prescribed by the law.

August 16, 2012: Cwele’s lawyer argues that the state never proved its case against her.

October 1, 2012: The Supreme Court of Appeal confirms Cwele and Nabolisa’s convictions and increases their sentences to 20 years each.

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