Cwele wants court to accept her testimony
Advocate argues her version more reliable
March 16, 2011
Sheryl Cwele, the wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, wants the court to accept her testimony and reject a statement by a convicted drugs mule "who would resort to lies just to have things going her way".
Cwele's advocate, Mvuseni Ngubane, introduced a new defence yesterday when he told the Pietermaritzburg High Court, sitting in the KwaZulu-Natal coastal town of Ramsgate, that Tessa Beetge, the woman Cwele allegedly recruited as a drugs mule, was no angel.
He was referring to an e-mail in which Beetge asked Cwele if she would falsely claim that they worked together at the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.
"Tessa did not testify and the absence of her evidence leaves a yawning gap in the state's case," said Ngubane.
"She appears to have made friends overseas. As things stand, we do not know what those friends were up to. Did they deal in drugs in cahoots with her? Did they use her as a drug mule and put drugs in her bag without [her] knowing?
"We are left to speculate about these things in the absence of evidence by Tessa."
The state alleges that Cwele and co-accused Frank Nabolisa recruited Beetge and Charmaine Moss as drugs mules. Beetge is serving an eight-year jail sentence in Brazil after 10kg of cocaine was found in her luggage in 2008.
Over the next seven weeks, Judge Piet Koen will deliberate on Cwele's defence that she was merely a generous friend who was helping two desperate women.
The defence wants the court to accept an affidavit in which Cwele claims Nabolisa owned a construction firm and needed white women to work with him so that he could secure contracts from whites.
Koen said that he would deliver his judg ment on May 4 in Pietermaritzburg: "You won't have to come to Ramsgate again. Pietermaritzburg is a little bit further but I am sure you will make it there," he said.
Earlier, Cwele whispered to Nabolisa in the dock when prosecutor Ian Cooke said the transcripts of cellphone calls and SMSs between them and Beetge were an "overwhelming web from which the two accused cannot escape".
"The way in which the evidence all fits together, like a hand in a glove, completely excludes there being a possibility that the data was corrupted in any way," he said.
But Ngubane argued that the state had not proved the reliability of the recordings and transcripts.