Drug mule’s family ‘thrilled’ with Cwele’s conviction

Sheryl Cwele’s conviction could be a lifeline for South African drug mule Tessa Beetge.

Sheryl Cwele. Picture: SAPA.

JOHANNESBURG - The mother of a jailed drug mule on Thursday said she is thrilled and relieved that Sheryl Cwele is now in prison.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele's ex-wife handed herself over to authorities at the Pietermaritzburg High Court earlier in the day.

She will now begin serving her 20-year prison sentence.

In 2011, Cwele and co-accused Frank Nabolisa were convicted for recruiting Tessa Beetge to transport drugs to Brazil and attempting to recruit another young woman.

Beetje has spent the past four years in a Brazilian jail.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) turned down Cwele's appeal on her 12-year sentence.

The Bloemfontein court added another eight years, because judges felt the previous term was "inappropriately short".

Beetje's mother, Marie Swanepoel, said she was ecstatic that Cwele was now behind bars.

"I am glad. When we heard the news on Monday that she was sentenced to 20 years, we were very happy."

Cwele's conviction could also be a lifeline for Beetge.

Brazilian authorities told Swanepoel that if anybody in South Africa was imprisoned in connection with the case, they would reduce her sentence.

"Hopefully the sentence will be reduced or she will be pardoned. I will be happy either way."

The mother said she will send Brazilian authorities an official request next week.