The Constitutional Court has reduced convicted drug dealer Sheryl Cwele's prison term from 20 years to 12 years, says a report.
The Witness reported on Wednesday that the court ruled on Tuesday that Sheryl Cwele, who is the ex-wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, received the same sentence as that of her co-accused Frank Nabolisa.
The two were initially convicted in May 2011 of dealing in cocaine by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen and were each sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.
The Supreme Court of Appeal later 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 – which was handed down in May – was reinstated in June.
According to a statement issued by the Constitutional Court on June 12 about Nabolisa's sentence, the state did not seek leave to cross-appeal against the sentence, instead it requested an increase in sentence.
" ... In its written submissions, the state asked for an increase in sentence from 12 years to 15 years imprisonment," the statement read at the time.
"Emboldened by a later confirmation of a sentence of 20 years imprisonment by the Supreme Court of Appeal in another case, the state filed supplementary written submissions, stating that it would argue for the sentence imposed to be increased to 20 years imprisonment."
The court "found in the state’s favour and increased the sentence to 20 years imprisonment".
Nabolisa’s complaint against the increased sentence was that the state failed to comply with section 316B of the Criminal Procedure Act. This advises the state to provide the leave for appeal against a ciminal case tried in a high court.
In July, Cwele launched a similar Constitutional Court appeal. The bench of 11 judges ruled that her sentence be reduced in light of its findings in Nabolisa's case. – Sapa