Thursday, May 5, 2011

Case crippling me financially - Cwele


The drug trafficking case against the minister of state security's wife Sheryl Cwele has crippled her financially, according to defence documents. 

                                                                    Sheryl Cwele

The claim is made in documents Cwele's legal representatives intend presenting to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday when they opposes the State's application to re-open its case.

The State closed its case earlier this year, but wants to introduce new evidence. It brought its application on Wednesday.

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

                                                                   Frank Nabolisa

Beetge was arrested when 10kg of cocaine was found in her luggage in Brazil in 2008.
She is serving a jail sentence in Sao Paolo. Moss turned State's witness.

Judge Piet Koen was expected to deliver judgment on Wednesday morning, but this was put on hold pending the outcome of the State's application.

In the defence's court documents opposing the application, Cwele said she had spent a fortune on legal fees on days which could have been used to hear evidence had the State not decided to close its case.

FACING THE FIRE: Sheryl Cwele awaits her fate in the dock yesterday. Her judgment, which was scheduled to take place, was postponed to allow the state to appeal for the case to be reopened so that two more witnesses can give evidence

Her employer, the Hibiscus Coast Municipality was also not paying her for taking leave to attend court proceedings.

"That means that each time I attend the court proceedings I have to pay for my legal team and lose income. I have lost a fortune as a result of my attendance," she said, submitting that the re-opening of the case would make the situation worse.

High profile

She described her case as a high-profile matter which had attracted a huge amount of media attention. She had found some of the reports hurtful to her and her family.

Cwele said she had found it difficult to find experts and witnesses because her case touched on the security and intelligence agency.

"It was difficult to get them to testify. I then decided to direct [former Umkhonto we Sizwe operative] advocate Wilfred Mkhize to help me," she said.

Mkhize had good connection within the intelligence community, she said.

Cwele said Mkhize died on April 18. He had managed to get two people to testify on her behalf.

She said she knew the witnesses only by their code names and that they were experts on how cellphone conversations were intercepted.

During the trial, the State produced bundles of intercepted calls between Nabolisa and Cwele and Beetge.

The bundles of the intercepted calls were riddled with errors and their authenticity was questioned several times by the defence team and Koen.

The State witnesses were also unable to explain how calls were intercepted.

Cwele argues that the State will be unfairly advantaged if its case is reopened because she has lost advocate Mkhize and the two witnesses, known only as Carlos and Bret.

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