SA drug mule released from Brazilian prison

Tessa Beetge was arrested in Brazil in 2008 after being found with 10kg of cocaine.

A screenshot of Tessa Beegte being interviewed by SABC’s Special Assignment. Picture: via YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - The family of Tessa Beetge, the woman used as a drug mule by the former wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, say they're thrilled she has been released from a Brazilian prison after five and a half years.

Beetge was arrested in Brazil in 2008 after 10,2 kg of cocaine was found in her luggage.

She was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for drug trafficking.

Beetge will reunited with her family and two daughters when she returns home, but it's unclear when this will happen.

Her aunt, Margie Olsen, says the family can't wait to see her again.

"I think Tessa is going to have to work through a lot of emotions."

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation is refusing to comment on whether it had any communication with Brazilian authorities prior to Beetge's release.

Cwele's former wife Sheryl and her co-accused Frank Nabolisa were found guilty of using Beetge to smuggle drugs in May 2011.

But in October 2012, Cwele and Nabolisa were slapped with 20 year sentences after appealing an earlier ruling to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Cwele and Nabolisa were originally sentenced to 12 years behind bars for drug dealing.

The judgment handed down by the Bloemfontein court dismissed their appeals and increased their sentences to 20 years each.

Last year, Nabolisa's sentence was returned to 12 years by the Constitutional Court.