Drug-mule’s mom dies

2013-10-13 12:54

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Durban - Marie Swanepoel, who played a key role in the conviction of drug trafficker Sheryl Cwele, the then wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, has died at the age of 61.

The Sunday Times reported that Swanepoel, the mother of convicted drug-mule Tessa Beetge, fell ill on 3 October with a perforated stomach and was taken to Queenstown Hospital. She was put on life support but went into organ failure. She was transferred to Frere Hospital in East London but died on Thursday night.

Swanepoel’s sister Margie Olsen, said the family was devastated by her death. She said her sister had been a very strong and courageous woman who had not been afraid to take down a minister’s wife.

Beetge was arrested at Sao Paulo International Airport in 2008 after being caught carrying nearly 10kg of cocaine. At the time, Swanepoel approached the Sunday Times with damning evidence including cellphone messages and emails between her daughter and Cwele, who set Beetge up for the drug mission. Cwele and her co-accused, Frank Nabolisa, were convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in May 2011.

The war is far from over

In 2012 Nabolisa and Cwele appealed their 12 year sentence, but the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) was not amused, instead increasing the sentences for both by eight years to 20 years.

At the time Swanepoel said: “I e-mailed foreign affairs four years ago and they replied that if Sheryl or Frank were found guilty, they [the Brazilians] would reduce Tessie’s sentence. It has happened so I’m going to converse with them on the matter.”

For Swanepoel, the battle was won but the war was far from over and at the time she said she won’t rest until her daughter is back in South Africa.

She said she would continue her struggle to have her sentence reduced.

Department of international relations and co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said that contrary to the Swanepoels’ perceptions, the department could never become involved in legal matters relating to a conviction and sentence in a foreign country.

Swanepoel said she had also e-mailed the president of Brazil, asking for a reduced sentence, and had received a reply acknowledging receipt of her correspondence.
Read more on:    siyabonga cwele  |  port elizabeth

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