Drug mule's mom welcomes Cwele sentence

2012-10-02 07:36

Durban - “Twenty years behind bars for Sheryl [Cwele]? Wow!”

This was how the mother of the drug mule languishing in a Brazilian jail reacted to the news on Monday that the sentence of convicted drug dealer and ex-wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele was increased to 20 years.

Sheryl Cwele and Frank Nabolisa were found guilty of drug dealing by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment each in May last year.

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

Still behind bars

For Marie Swanepoel, the battle is won but the war is far from over as she says she won’t rest until her daughter, Tessa Beetge, is back in South Africa.

She says she will continue her struggle to have her sentence reduced.

Beetge, who has been in a Brazilian jail for smuggling cocaine since June 2008, has less than four years left on her sentence.

“We want Tessie back home and we will not stop until it’s done,” Swanepoel, who lives in Margate, told The Witness.

“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,” she said.

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.

The SCA judgment acknowledged Swanepoel’s determination.

“In most cases the courier or ‘mule’ is caught, while the handler [the drug dealer or importer] remains safe in the background, to carry on with his/her evil deeds,” it read. “In the present matter, it was only through the courage and determination of Tessa’s mother that the real culprits have been brought to book.”

Long and hard battle

Swanepoel said that getting Cwele and Nabolisa to face justice had been a long and hard battle.

Cwele was director of health services at the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.

After hearing what the court’s judgment said about her courage, Swanepoel said: “Why should I let them [Nabolisa and Cwele] take away anything from me that doesn’t belong to them without a fight?”

Swanepoel commended state advocate Ian Cooke, saying that he handled the case “absolutely brilliantly” and went out of his way to make sure that justice was served.

“There were a lot of negative comments because Sheryl was involved in government. Nobody thought she would go to jail. Even if she didn’t, I knew that one day she would have to answer to a greater judge.”

Looking fondly at a photograph of Beetge, Swanepoel said she had last spoken to her daughter in May and planned to phone her to tell her the news, although she was only allowed to call in December again.

“My birthday was in September. I got a card from Tessie with the most heartfelt words. I miss her so much,” she said.

She said Beetge’s daughters, aged 13 and 16, missed their mother dearly.

“They understand a lot more than they did four years ago and it’s been difficult for them. They still have teary moments when we speak of their mom,” said Swanepoel.

Tessa’s father, Swannie, said there were many parents in the same situation who had contacted him after Beetge’s story first broke.

“They were all glad that Marie and I spoke up. Some parents told me they were too ashamed of what others may think so they decided to keep quiet instead of getting help,” he said, adding that remaining silent only made situations worse.

“I fought for my daughter and stood up against anyone who had anything negative to say. They cannot judge Tessa,” he said.

Sentences welcomed

The Democratic Alliance said it applauded the increased sentences.

The party’s shadow minister of correctional services, James Selfe, said it would counter the cynicism many had that politicians and highly-placed people received one form of justice and poor and ordinary people received another.

He said he doubted Cwele would have her jail time reduced like in line with other highly-placed convicts, such as Shabir Shaik, Jackie Selebi and Tony Yengeni.

“I think this case seems to have attracted enough national and international attention, particularly as it’s linked to a sentence being served in Brazil,” Selfe said.

“I think there would be an international outcry if some sort of special treatment was reserved for her.”

  • marc.rule - 2012-10-02 07:42

    ONLY 20 YEARS..........WTF

      aniken.vader.31 - 2012-10-02 07:53

      still - I don;t think I have heard something like this hapenning in SA - this IS a first for me hehehe! Well done to the justice department! As about the drug mule, she is lucky it was not china! I know that she is almost a victim but at the same time she is also guilty knowingly that she distrubted drugs that affects other youngsters' lives! Frankly I think this time is doing her good! But also wish she is back to be there with her family - every family member is important in one's life..! Good luck to all, and good riddance to another anc leech! NEXT????

      lsfreak - 2012-10-02 11:28

      20yrs what you guys smoking, here we do days for high profile people remember. Next week she'll have a brain tumour or kidney failure then be out on parole as soon as this papers stop reporting...Mark my words :D

  • bonge.mpofu - 2012-10-02 07:48

    i am also a mother. for my children's sake, i wouldn't risk going to jail even if i get a billion rand offer. i would rather sell vegetables on the street but be with my kids every day.

      john.turner.58760608 - 2012-10-02 08:09

      You must be a good mother by realising your children need you more than the money. Take care

      lebakeng.nchaupe - 2012-10-02 08:42

      with more parents like you this nation will be our heaven on earth

  • Lyndatjie - 2012-10-02 07:50

    I seriously feel for these parents because a mother and father's heart is big enough to forgive and wish everything of the best for their kids. But I'm a mother too. And I don't want drugs around my kids. I don't want drug mules getting reduced sentences. I want people like Cwele to suffer and rot in jail. I want them to feel the pain and suffering every parent goes through watching their children sink further and further into the drug hell that GREED created. As parents we try and educate and train, but sick and twisted people prey on our kids and the very momentwhen they are emotionally funerable. So sorry - STAY IN JAIL AND LEARN YOUR LESSON!

  • thabo.kubheka.969 - 2012-10-02 07:52

    This is terrible. Sheryl Cwele did not have the drugs why is she being jailed?

      Cpho Addwin Featherbird - 2012-10-02 07:53

      Did u read da article u dumb man?

      Rabbler.Rouser - 2012-10-02 07:58

      Because she is a disgusting lowlife drug dealer.

      raymond.buis.3 - 2012-10-02 08:04

      Don't respond to this troll. He knows nothing.

      steve.ritchie.739 - 2012-10-02 08:19

      It never fails to amaze me just how thick some trolls can be!!!!!!!!!!!

      mangena.hluphekile - 2012-10-02 16:50

      Thabo, why are you insulting the human race? l trust the person who facilitated the keyboard into your hands shall join Cwele in the 20 year sentence. Wena you need a highly qualified psachiatrist!

      fred.warren.986 - 2012-10-02 18:49

      Thabo finished school last year, so go easy on him guys. He is unlucky to have received an education under the ANC government. Maybe if he was born earlier and received a much better Bantu education, then he would have written something more intelligent.

      Joleen Jones - 2013-07-28 14:29

      wake up you stupid fool

  • julie.khan3 - 2012-10-02 07:52

    Well done Mrs Swanepoel!!Great Job!! How could Mrs Cwele become involved with a Nigerian...These Nigerian Drug Lords must be sent back walking the long distance to be eaten by wild animals.

      Joleen Jones - 2013-07-28 14:34

      kensong ben just do yourself a favour and STFU

  • sthembiso.jali.58 - 2012-10-02 07:59

    what puzzle me is that the drugs were smuggled underneath the minister of state security's nose,do you we safe in s.a ?

  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-10-02 08:02

    24 hrs after she was sentenced (again), she is not yet in jail!!!! the cANCer is yet again making a travesty of justice and mockery of the justice system!

  • colingkearns - 2012-10-02 08:12

    Give that judge a Bells!

  • ryan.a.smith.3958 - 2012-10-02 08:18

    20 years ? she will be out in 20 months. ANC chums don't spend long in prison, if at all

  • mart.botha - 2012-10-02 08:44

    From this can we assume that she must immediately report to start serving her sentence. I want news cameras there to witness this. As far as the 'mule' goes...she did the crime and must finish the time (4 yrs. To the mother, yes some may empathise with you, but at the end of the day your daughter was dealing in death for reward, and therefore got off lightly.

  • M.T.Selepe - 2012-10-02 08:51

    Justice is best served hard,long and cold. She derseves to be behind bars,political status or not. However,having seeing how lax is our correctional services-she will probably be out on parole due to some high blood pressure,or lung something...thats the downside of all this!

  • liz.rudy.3 - 2012-10-02 08:55

    Dear Phumi. Indeed, justice is very selective. Cwele will be out shortly and the person she duped into being the mule is languishing in a foreign jail. You say that the mule brought SA into disrepute???? What about the Cwele, the Security Minister's wife who was a drug dealer? Get your priorities straight and stop playing the "poor africans we never get fair justice card"

  • charmaine.mcdonald2 - 2012-10-02 09:38

    The comments below says it all.

  • siyanda.yeni.5 - 2012-10-02 10:28

    I am sure the lawyer advised her that there was a possibility that the sentence could be increased! Serves her right! I welcome the ruling by the SCA,I have always have faith in the SCA judges!

  • ljmostert - 2012-10-02 10:46

    Meddem! Shaik out the bag - no, no no this is not jelly tots!! Hehehe!

  • elaine.greenblatt.1 - 2012-10-04 10:54

    I salute Mr and Mrs Swanepoel for fighting for their daughter whether she did right or wrong - well done and continue the fight.

  • sharon.magwai - 2012-10-04 14:55

    Like honestly no one is a victim here.. Even Tessa is guilty for aggreeing to such scandals, even if they held a gun to her head, money drives people ridiculously, its so sad. As for cwele such disgrace, she doesnt care bwt her family n her job, she is so selfish, 20 years is not enough for her and her partner nabolisa.. :(

  • derekneilmaclachlan - 2012-10-12 17:20


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