Durban - Convicted drug dealer Sheryl Cwele appeared briefly in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday when she launched an application for reconsideration of her sentence.
In 2013, the Constitutional Court reduced her prison term from 20 years to 12. Cwele said in court papers she believed she was eligible for her sentence to be converted to correctional supervision, citing case law. The case was adjourned for a date to be arranged to allow the police and justice ministers to respond to Cwele’s application. Their legal representatives indicated that they would be opposing the application.
Cwele, the ex-wife of Siyabonga Cwele, minister of tele-communications and postal services, and her co-accused, Frank Nabolisa, were initially convicted in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in May 2011 of using drug mules to smuggle cocaine and were each sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.
She began serving her sentence in October 2012. The Supreme Court of Appeal increased their sentences to 20 years.
Nabolisa approached the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the State was required to officially appeal the sentences, before they could be increased in the Appeal Court. Nabolisa’s original sentence of 12 years was reinstated.
In July 2013, Cwele launched a similar Constitutional Court appeal. The bench of 11 judges ruled that her sentence be reduced in the light of its findings in Nabolisa’s case.
Convicted drug mule, Tessa Beetge, served more than five years in a Brazilian prison after she was caught in possession of 10.2kg of cocaine at Sao Paulo airport. She was working for Cwele and Nabolisa.
Beetge is back in South Africa after being released last year.