State asks for even longer jail time for Cwele and Nabolisa

2012-06-15 00:00

ALREADY faced with a state request to increase their jail terms, convicted drug traffickers Sheryl Cwele and Frank Nabolisa now have to deal with the possibility of even harsher sentences.

This is because of a recent Supreme Court of Appeal precedent that has given the state ammunition to gun for longer terms of imprisonment.

Instead of serving the 12-year sentences imposed by the trial court, these could now increase to 20 years.

In an earlier submission to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), in which the pair are appealing their convictions and sentences, the state makes it clear that it feels Judge Pete Koen’s punishment is too lenient.

It was imposed in May last year and is three years less than the minimum sentence prescribed for drug trafficking. Koen said justice was “not a sledgehammer” and that sentencing should be tempered with a measure of mercy.

State advocate Ian Cooke had submitted in his earlier arguments to the SCA that they should have received the minimum prescribed 15-year term for their role in smuggling cocaine across international borders.

Now, in supplementary papers filed this week with the SCA, Cooke says they should get in the region of 20 years’ imprisonment. He said a recent SCA judgment in the case of drug mule Heinrich Carl Keyser indicates that that would be the appropriate sentence.

 The SCA confirmed a sentence of 20 years imposed on Keyser.

Cooke said Cwele and Nabolisa’s situation was more serious. The amount of cocaine involved was far greater in their case and they were the organisers of the crime. Their moral reprehensibility far exceeded that of the mules.

In Keyser’s case, the five judges of appeal agreed that the 20-year sentence, although heavy, did not “evoke any disquiet”. Keyser, a 35-year-old married man, was arrested after arriving from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

He was convicted of dealing in 6,5 kg of cocaine found in a rucksack he’d placed on the flight from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg. The rucksack was found to contain 13 plastic bags of clothing soaked in a cocaine solution, and a shampoo bottle containing a “cocaine-loaded condom”.

In their case, Cwele and Nabolisa were found to have formed a common purpose in recruiting South Coast women Tessa Beetge and Charmaine Moss as mules to bring drugs into South Africa. Beetge was arrested and jailed after 10,23 kg of cocaine was found in her luggage at Sao Paulo airport. Moss had withdrawn from a similar trip planned for her by the pair after she became suspicious.

The SCA will hear Cwele and Nabolisa’s appeals on August 16.

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