Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele were briefed by intelligence bosses on the embarrassing high-profile drug trafficking case involving the minister’s wife, Sheryl, long before her arrest.
The Sunday Independent has established that a group of intelligence chiefs, led by former National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee co-ordinator Silumko Sokupa, told Motlanthe, when he was caretaker president in 2009, that Sheryl was being investigated for drug-dealing.
The top spy team also comprised former crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego and former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) director-general Manala Manzini.
The intelligence bigwigs are believed to have felt that the case would embarrass the country and erode the credibility of the spy outfits, given the suspect was the wife of a sitting intelligence minister.
Cwele was appointed Intelligence Minister by Motlanthe in 2008, and in May 2009 Zuma reappointed him to head the renamed Ministry of State Security.
He has maintained he was estranged from his wife during the period of the investigations. But this was contradicted by reports that he’d spent the 2009 December holidays with her in Mozambique. Sheryl’s lawyer, Mvuseni Ngubane, told the Pietermaritzburg High court last February, during her bail application hearing, that the couple had not been estranged since 2005, as claimed by the State in opposing bail. Ngubane said Cwele and his wife had spent the December holiday together in Mozambique.
It has also emerged that after details surfaced in March 2009 that Sheryl was linked to a drug trafficking underworld, Cwele told Motlanthe he’d been told his wife was being pursued by police. A top official in the Presidency told The Sunday Independent this week that after the story that Sheryl was involved in drugs broke into the public domain, Cwele went to see Motlanthe.
“The minister did tell the president that there was a criminal investigation into his wife… He felt that he needed to talk to the president,” the official said. “But he didn’t expect the president to help.”
The Sunday Independent understands Cwele had been briefed by Manzini about his wife. Mphego had authorised the tapping of Sheryl’s phone as part of a probe into Nigerian drug dealer Frank Nabolisa.
Sheryl and Nabolisa were sentenced to 12 years for drug trafficking by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday. They have since indicated they would appeal against their convictions and sentences.
It is understood that a team of intelligence officers investigating Sheryl and Nabolisa and later handed over the intercepted conversations between the two to embattled crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
Mdluli used the taped conversations in his plea to President Jacob Zuma late last year to help him fend off what he called a plot by senior intelligence officers to oust him.
In a top-secret letter to Zuma in November, copied to Cwele, Mdluli said, “These senior loyal members were also active with the interceptions on Minister Cwele’s wife”. Mdluli was “irregularly” appointed by a ministerial committee on which Cwele sat.
Motlanthe’s spokesman Thabo Masebe could not confirm whether the deputy president had met with intelligence chiefs on the matter, and said the contents of such meetings were confidential. “The security chiefs do brief the president on regular occasions… In their meetings they don’t talk about individuals, they talk matters of national security,” he said. Cwele’s spokesman Brian Dube said the minister would not comment on his wife’s matter, as it was still before the courts.
Sources in the intelligence community said the conviction of Cwele’s wife had caused the country embarrassment. “This matter was very serious. It relates to a number of aspects that the intelligence community is mandated and entrusted to guard,” an intelligence official said. It was of such importance the head of state had to be informed.
The official said at first Nabolisa’s phone had been tapped, but officials soon discovered links to Sheryl.
Nabolisa and Sheryl, a high ranking municipal official on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, were arrested last January.
Mphego and Sokupa refused to comment. - George Matlala
How can he not know? They had to let justice take its course. Justice has been served. Let's celebrate that the wife of a very high profile minister has been treated as equal as any other citizen would have expected to be treated.
GOD BLESS SOUTH AFRICA OUR BEAUTIFUL LAND, I LOVE THIS COUNTRY.
littlegii @Andy J Mck, wrote
I already live in Australia. Unfortunately i cant say the government here, which is white, is much better than the ANC. I do agree it is nothing to do with race but i will add that there is a lack of intelligence.... Corruption is rife the world over. The white south africans followed the wests example on how to get rich and leave the middle class blindfolded. Cosatu complains about the gap between the poor and the rich. This gap was created by the rich when they found out they could use black labour at a cheaper rate than white labour. They bought it all upon themselves. The white workers had to then fall in line or starve. Good luck with sorting out your Government. As long as they lie to the un-educated u will get nowhere.
Kabelo Tau & Andy J Mck, you are spot on. Let us, as a nation, celebrate the successful conviction of Sheryl and her partner in crime. My confidence on our justice system has been revived by the successful convictions on all the high profile people including Jackie Selebi.
something is quite interesting there seemed to be a notion whenever some body has done something,there's always this preposterous song&dance that person must step down why is always like that,especially minority parties
Kabelo. I appreciate your patriotism. The facts, sadly, tell a different story. We have a president who rushed to suppress evidence in the arms-deal saga which, eventually, never made it to trial. We have a president who was accused of having a generally corrupt relationship with Shabir Sheikh but the matter never went further. We have a president who takes showers after out-of-wedlock sex because that is sufficient protection. We have a president who sits on stage and says nothing when Julius Malaema says the following at a rally: “They (whites) have turned our land into game farms… The willing-buyer, willing-seller (system) has failed,” Malema said. “We must take the land without paying. They took our land without paying. Once we agree they stole our land, we can agree they are criminals and must be treated as such,” he said to cheers from a crowd of about 3 000 people at the Galeshewe stadium, just outside Kimberley. We have a president who allows Malema, who scarcely made it through school, to continue his comments about landgrabs and nationalisation. That is after every single communist country found that nationalisation and communism failed! Yes - occasionally a case actually makes it to trial and then our legal system takes charge. In the scheme of things that is, however, a drop in the ocean. There has been far to many cases of people plundering state coffers with zero further action. When Malema's company was awarded a contract (no doubt above board - you obviously don't need much intelligence to run an engineering company) the dam wall was washed away after the first rain. I wonder if that was ever fixed - and who paid for it? We read about irregularities with tenders on a daily basis. What sort of democracy is that? Guess what - the millions who continue to vote for uneducated buffoons - swept up in the euphoria of freedom and false promises (now they might even land a farm as well!)- don't read this. Politics in SA is not for reasonable educated people like Kabelo Tau. It is rather about playing to the uneducated masses through dancing on stage and singing war songs. All they want is the vote - and, thus, the power to enrich themselves further. Clem Sunter will tell them that, if they nationalise, we slide into obscurity like all the others before them - but they don't care. Mugabe's supporters are being chased around in our townships in SA. They have nothing. But Mugabe's OK - he's got a few houses and farms - and a few bob in the back pocket. Who cares about the future? Andy J Mck - you should mix with better quality friends - if you can find them. Then you won't be called names. As for your promise to "sort it out" - I'm waiting in anticipation. I do suspect that, thus far, you have not accomplished much. Then again - perhaps that is why people resort to calling you names - no-one likes a big mouth. You should re-read what Kabelo wrote and then what you wrote. Chalk and cheese, boet. You should be so lucky to be his brother.
Sorry tale of lies and deceit. And the woman who acted as the drug mule is locked up in a Brazilian jail. Nabolisa and Sheryl also deserve jail terms and on the evidence here the Minister of Security should be fired. @KABELO: Yes, there has been progress, but we should remain vigilant and not compare today with bad things in the past. That chapter is past us.
Andy J Mck, wrote
While I might have reservations about what Kabelo says, in general I agree with him. I agree that the Nat government of the 80's was scary in it's disregard for law. I was at Defence HQ at the time and some of the stuff "we" were doing was wild. I also like Kabelo's attitude. I'm a white SAfrican, and an English speaker. I am sick of racism, and how Afrikaneres treat me like a "K^ffir boetie". I have zero problem with black dudes. I think the ANC is a corrupt political party, but that has nothing to do with race. But on the ground, I wish white people would be more friendly and realise this is a country largely populated by black people. Either suck it up, or fvck off to aUSTRALIA. leave the rest of us here to sort it out!
Deena Naidoo, wrote
Kabelo Tau also believes in 'viva democracy, and NOT viva ANC'! Cwele being a minister in the ANC govt. knew full well that his wife was charged and an expected conviction was imminent, so, he must do the right thing and resign. He cannot absolve himself from responsibility, as I believe he was to enjoy the gains from the 'ill-gotton profits'. Now that Sheryl has been convicted for drug trafficking, will that white lady who is serving time in an overseas jail be let out and pardoned, eh!
It's high time the useless Zuma and his corrupt ANC government were booted out of power.Enough is enough!So much for our State Security.
Kabelo Tau, wrote
It is good for the country that there are no allegations that the authorities attempted to scupper the investigations to protect the Minister's wife, this is a very good example that where there is evidence, the law must take its course irrespective of who is involved. Of course the opposition parties will comment on this matter from a narrow perspective, thus undermining the country's democratic institutions. There is no way in which a sane person can allege that the minister "has failed" in his duties while we have a conviction. It was the intelligence operatives and the police who investigated and effected the arrest and the state prosecuted, not the media and the opposition parties. It will take long before South Africans appreciate that their country is democratic and adhers to the doctrine of Separation of Powers wherein the judiciary and the executive act in the best interests of the state without necessarily trying to undermine each other, our constitution is very clear. There are many examples of the fact that our country's institutions are functioning well i.e Winnie Mandela's conviction without the ANC and govt interfering, John Block's investigation and arrest etc. If we seek to point fingers at the ruling party, let us do so but objectively. It is good to know that people, whether they belong to the powerful ANC or not, will be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the laws of the country if they break the law. We must also learn to differentiate between established facts and mere allegations. There is a growing perception of corruption being "out of control", it is not so, the truth is that we are from a past wherein govt was not transparent and media freedom never existed, hence people like Helen Zille were threatened with arrest for merely asking the authorities on how the late Steve Biko died in 1977. But today we have a free media that is allowed to work and expose ill practices perpetuated by authorities. Big corruption existed during apartheid, but because the laws were draconian enough, such were not exposed. I am happy that I live in a democratic state and can freely access both good and bad news without the state prescribing what I should hear and read, we are also allowed to post comments of forums like iol without censorship. This case should be celebrated as another example of our growing and maturing democracy, not used for narrow and selfish political gain and to tarnish the image of our country in the quest for a few votes, our country's image and wellbeing is bigger than all political parties put together. Viva Democracy!!!
For what it's worth, it shows our courts are independant... and that's worth quite a lot.
lol what a laughing stock the ANC is. There really can't be that many stupid people in South Africa to keep them in power. Is the ANC's way to make more money???
It is sad for the minister but if i were him for the sake of the country to step down because we are trying to clean our house
It is sad for the minister but if i were him for the sake of the country to step down because we are trying to clean our house
Naked Eyes, wrote
Now do we really have any state security in this country? Its a laughing banana republic with all incompetent idiots wanting to prove the other wrong. So long South Africa as long as these fools controls we become folish. Time for a turning tide?
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