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Bloemfontein - A mother’s love knows no bounds. That rings true for the mom of jailed drug mule Tessa Beetge, who has made it her “mission” to have her daughter freed from a Brazilian jail.
Marie Swanepoel’s goal brought her to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein for the appeal hearing of Sheryl Cwele and Frank Nabolisa, whom Swanepoel believes caused her daughter to be imprisoned.
Cwele and Nabolisa were both convicted of one count of dealing in cocaine by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen in May last year.
Judge Koen found Cwele had recruited two South Coast women, Beetge and Charmaine Moss, to traffic cocaine into SA for Nabolisa.
He sentenced both to 12 years in jail.
Moss turned down the job offer, but Beetge accepted. She was later arrested for drug trafficking. Brazilian authorities had found 10kg of cocaine in her possession at São Paulo airport. She is serving eight years in jail in that country.
After judgment was reserved yesterday, Swanepoel said she had come to court in support of her daughter.
“According to the copy of the sentence, Brazilian authorities would consider reducing her jail term if I can prove that the others involved have been imprisoned. So I am hoping I will be able to do that after this court’s decision. All I want to do is get Tessie home.”
Swanepoel, who attended every day of the criminal trial in 2010 and last year, made the trip from Margate to Bloemfontein with her husband, Gert.
She said she had seen a recent video of Beetge and that she was “looking well. She gets depressed around Christmas and birthdays but her faith is seeing her through”.
Swanepoel said it was tough for her daughter’s two children, “ but they send letters to Tessie and she writes back”.
During arguments, advocate Kemp J Kemp SC was grilled by the appeal court bench headed by Judge President Lex Mpati about why Cwele had not testified in her defence.
Kemp had argued that the State had not proved Cwele had known cocaine was going to be trafficked. Asked by Judge Visvanathan Poonan whether Cwele had known the plan was to bring something illegally into SA, Kemp replied: “Yes, but with this modus operandi, you often know only what you need to know. There’s no evidence she knew it involved drugs.” Judge Jonathan Heher told Kemp that if Cwele knew nothing about the cocaine, she should have said so to the court.
Advocate Koos van Vuuren, acting for Nabolisa, argued that Judge Koen had incorrectly found that his client was the kingpin in the enterprise.
State advocate Ian Cooke argued that the trial court had been correct when it handed down guilty verdicts, but erred with “wholly inadequate” sentences. He asked that jail terms of up to 20 years be imposed. - The Mercury