The State intends asking the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein to extend convicted drug dealer Sheryl Cwele's 12-year prison term to 20 years.

Cwele, the former wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, and Nigerian Frank Nabolisa, were convicted in May 2011 of recruiting two women to transport drugs from South America.

State prosecutor Ian Cooke, in papers lodged with the Pietermaritzburg High Court this week, said he would ask the court to extend Cwele's sentence following the decision by the court to uphold a 20-year sentence on Heinrich Carl Keyser.

Keyser was arrested in Johannesburg in December 2004 for bringing 6.5kg of cocaine from Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Cooke said in Keyser's case, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the 20-year sentence due to the seriousness of the offence.

Cooke said: “Cwele and Nabolisa's crimes are much more serious. The mass of cocaine (10 kg) found in the luggage of the mule used by Cwele and Nabolisa, Tessa Beetge, was greater than Keyser's. They were the organisers of the crime. Their moral reprehensibility far exceeds that of the mules,” he said.

In Keyser's initial trial, the arresting officers said when his bag was first checked by airport security staff, it smelt of brake fluid, used by smugglers to throw sniffer dogs off the scent. When Keyser's bag was placed in an X-ray machine, it was not possible to identify the contents because of how tightly Keyser's clothes had been packed.

When the bag was searched officers found cocaine wrapped in plastic. Keyser admitted he had booked the bag in, but said he had done it for someone named Beiro in Sao Paulo, said Cooke.

Keyser said he was told to bring the bag to Johannesburg and leave it in the airport's customs hall, where someone would collect it.

Nabolisa was in custody and Cwele out on R100 000 bail pending their appeal against the convictions.

Cwele and Nabolisa's appeal was expected to be heard in August. - Sapa