Court rejects Sheryl Cwele's acquittal bid

An application for drug-trafficking charges to be withdrawn against Sheryl Cwele was rejected by the high court sitting in Ramsgate on Wednesday.

“The application has been denied,” said Judge Piet Koene. The reasons for the ruling would given at the end of the case.

Advocate Mvuseni Ngubane on Wednesday applied for three drug-trafficking charges against Cwele to be withdrawn. Cwele is the wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

He argued that Cwele should be acquitted of the three charges because there was nothing linking her to the crime.

“No evidence exists to suggest there was a discussion about drugs,” Ngubane submitted in the application.

Cwele and her Nigerian co-accused, Frank Nabolisa, have pleaded not guilty to charges of dealing or conspiring to deal in drugs; procuring a woman named Charmaine Moss to collect drugs in Turkey; and procuring another woman, Tessa Beetge, to smuggle cocaine from South America.

Beetge was arrested when 10kg of cocaine was found in her luggage in Brazil in 2008 and is serving a jail sentence in São Paolo.

Moss has turned state witness.

Ngubane told the court that Cwele had not denied knowing Nabolisa, Beetge and Moss.
He said she introduced the women to Nabolisa because he had told her he was looking for white people to work for his company in South Africa and abroad.

Intercepted text message
Ngubane said Cwele had admitted to communicating with Beetge while she was overseas after she complained that she could not get hold of Nabolisa.

“The state has not submitted evidence that she [Cwele] knew about drugs.

“She had no knowledge of the crime,” said Ngubane.

There was also no evidence that suggested that Beetge was recruited to deal in drugs.

Ngubane said the fact that Cwele used her own cellphone to communicate with Nabolisa and Beetge meant that she was innocent, as she might have used a public phone if she was dealing in drugs.

He said an intercepted text message on Beetge and a parcel did not mean that it was parcel of drugs. “It could mean anything,” he said.

Asked about the intercepted calls and text messages between Beetge, Nabolisa and Cwele, Ngubane said there was no proof that the evidence had not been interfered with.

Typing errors were picked up in the transcripts on Tuesday.

State prosecutor Ian Cooke read a series of emails and text messages that he said proved that Cwele was played a part in arranging for Beetge to collect drugs.—Sapa

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