Cape Town - 100130 - picture of a picture of Tessa Beetge who is imprisoned in a Brazillian jail for alledgedly smuggling cocaine. Picture Mathieu Dasnois

Durban - Drug mule Tessa Beetge is “on top of the world” after only now being informed about the jailing of the pair who recruited her.

Beetge, 35, who is serving an eight-year sentence in a Brazilian jail, felt vindicated that Sheryl Cwele and her accomplice, Frank Nabolisa, were in jail, her mother, Marie Swanepoel, said .

“She’s always said it was Cwele and Nabolisa who were behind the whole drug trafficking case and her subsequent arrest


Swanepoel, who is allowed two 15-20 minute phone calls to her daughter a year – on her birthday and Christmas day – spoke to Beetge at the weekend. “I decided to call her early before Christmas because it’s very difficult to get through on the day,” she said.

She had last spoken to her on May 14.

Cwele, 51, the former wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, and Nabolisa started serving their 20-year sentences at Westville Prison in October after they failed to have their convictions overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The appeal court had increased their sentences from 12 to 20 years.

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen had earlier found them guilty of recruiting Beetge and another woman, Charmaine Moss, to smuggle cocaine into South Africa.

Moss had testified that she had been approached by Cwele, who was a Hibiscus Coast municipality executive at the time, about a job opportunity, but had turned it down.

Speaking from her Margate home, Swanepoel said Beetge was “fine, doing quite well”. “She is very happy that Cwele and her right-hand man are finally in prison,” she said, recalling their 20-minute conversation.

“She had given up hope that they would actually serve their time. She used to always say, ‘But mommy, when is she (Cwele) going to actually sit behind bars?’.”

It was the first time that her daughter did not complain about anything, Swanepoel said. “She is on top of the world. Obviously she misses her family, especially her daughters, but she sounded very upbeat and she said it all had to do with the fact that the people behind her arrest were also behind bars.”

Beetge was arrested at Sao Paulo Airport in 2008 after being found in possession of more than 10kg of cocaine and has already served half her term at the Penitenciaria Feminina da Capital prison.

Her parents have appealed, in a letter to Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, for an official pardon for Beetge after Cwele and Nabolisa were found guilty.

Swanepoel said her daughter was also thrilled when she was told her 13- and 15-year-old daughters had done well in their school exams.

And Beetge’s youngest daughter, who recently celebrated her birthday, was “besides herself with excitement” when she received a birthday card from her mother, she added.

Beetge had also written a letter to her daughters advising them about their teenage years – and boys. “Tessa writes to them all the time, but most of the letters don’t come through and her girls sometimes think she’s forgotten about them so they were happy to receive the letter,” Swanepoel said, adding that the girls were yearning to be reunited with their mother. - Daily News