Sheryl Cwele's jail sentence reduced

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court has reduced convicted drug dealer Sheryl Cwele's prison term from 20 years to 12 years, Beeld reported on Wednesday.

The court ruled that Cwele, who is the ex-wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, receive the same sentence as that of her co-accused Frank Nabolisa.

The two were initially convicted in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in May 2011 of using drug mules to smuggle cocaine and were each sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.

The Supreme Court of Appeal later increased their sentences to 20 years.

Nabolisa approached the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the State was required to officially appeal the sentences, before they could be increased in the Appeal Court. Nabolisa’s original sentence of 12 years was reinstated.

In July, Cwele launched a similar Constitutional Court appeal. The bench of 11 judges ruled that her sentence be reduced in light of its findings in Nabolisa's case.

Drug mule's mother not surprised

The Witness reported on Wednesday that the mother of convicted drug mule Tessa Beetge, who remains in prison in Brazil, said it came as no surprise that Cwele's sentence had been reduced to 12 years, because Nabolisa's sentence had already been reduced.

"I just think both of them should not get out on parole at all," said Marie Swanepoel.

Beetge has already served over five years of her total jail sentence of seven years and nine months. She was caught in possession of 10.2kg of cocaine at Sao Paulo airport after being recruited by Cwele and Nabolisa.

Swanepoel told The Witness she has no telephonic contact with her daughter because the prison won't allow foreign inmates to receive or make phone calls.

"All she is allowed is to receive and send two e-mails per week. She has many people she keeps in touch with, but she always tries to e-mail me.

"I do know she is not receiving any benefits because of her case being high profile," Swanepoel said.

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