Where is freed Tessa now?

2014-03-14 00:00

MYSTERY surrounds the whereabouts of convicted drug mule Tessa Beetge after her family was told that she had been moved from a Sao Paulo jail to a federal institution.

Neither Beetge’s father Swannie Swanepoel nor her aunt Margie Olsen has heard from Beetge after being told she had been released from prison three weeks ago.

Beetge, who hails from Margate, has spent five-and-a-half years in a Brazilian jail after she was nabbed at an airport with nine kilograms of cocaine in her luggage.

When Beetge was arrested in 2009, she denied any knowledge of the drugs and said she had taken up on offer to do administrative work by Sheryl Cwele, of Port Shepstone, and her friend Frank Nabolisa.

Cwele and Nabolisa were found guilty of drug trafficking and are currently serving lengthy jail terms.

Swanepoel said Brazilian correctional services authorities had given his daughter two choices — to either remain under guard in a facility or to venture out into the country, provided that she reported back to the facility every day. “She [Beetge] chose to stay under guard as shelter and food were provided. If she chose to leave, she will have no shelter or food.”

He said his daughter had been communicating via e-mail with a “friend”.

However, he still has “no idea” when Beetge will return to South Africa

“I am worried about Tessie, but she has been communicating with a friend via e-mail. She [Beetge] says she’s fine but I’m still concerned.

“I don’t have access to e-mail. Her friend informs me as soon as there is news from Tessie. She is still waiting for a flight back home.”

He did not wish to reveal the identity of the friend.

“Tessie said in her [last] e-mail that she will be not be given any notice as to when she will be put on a plane. We may only know when she lands in Durban and calls me.”

Speaking to The Witness from Steyn­burgh in the Eastern Cape, Olsen said they were anxious.

“We don’t know exactly where she is,” she said, adding that she believes that the judge has not signed Beetge’s expulsion order and that is the reason for the delay.

“I sent an e-mail again this morning to the consular office to follow up my request about Tessa’s specific location or contact. I can’t pressure the judge to sign the paper can I?”

She is now holding on to hope that she will be reunited with her niece soon and is praying that she will get a response in April.

She said Beetge’s daughters are doing well with their dad and stepmother.

“The kids are beautiful. They are brought up in a stable house and I think Tessa is going to be happy when she sees them.”

It was an emotional day for Olsen when she recently received a letter from Beetge that she wrote to her from prison in December.

“She’s just longing to come home and misses the family. She also feels that she lost so much and she can’t wait to get her freedom back. She also asked about how her children were doing.”

Olsen confirmed that Beetge had been keeping in touch with a friend she met while they were together in prison in Brazil.

The friend had since returned to SA.

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