South Africa 3.3.2014 06:00 am

SA drug mule home soon

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

Excitement is building in former drug mule Tessa Beetge’s family home as her return from a Brazil is imminent.

Sentenced in 2008 to 12 years in jail after 10kg of cocaine was found in her luggage at São Paulo airport in Brazil, Beetge was released from prison earlier this month after five and a half years in a Brazilian jail.

She still has to undergo a number of procedures before she can be repatriated.

“Very soon now,” Beetge’s aunt, Margi Olsen, said yesterday.

“She had her Yellow Fever inoculation last week Monday and has to wait 10 days.”

Beetge’s mother, Maria Swane-poel, died in October.

Swanepoel and Olsen gathered much of the evidence that sent Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele’s now ex-wife, Sheryl, and Frank Nabolisa to prison for 12 years for drug trafficking.

Cwele and Nabolisa recruited Beetge to courier drugs for them.

Patricia Gerber became involved with Section 21 company, Locked Up In A Foreign Country, which focuses on South African drug mules and decoys impri-soned in foreign countries when her son Johann was sentenced to nine years in Beau Bassin Central Prison in Mauritius for smuggling 920 grams of heroin in his sto-mach in 2005.

He has since claimed he was forced at gunpoint to swallow the drug. His release date is expected to be in 2016.

“We are thrilled Beetge is coming home,” said Gerber.

She added that Beetge would not have a criminal record in South Africa. “She will only have one in Brazil, although she would probably never be allowed to

return.”

Gerber said that the new trafficking act (Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act) spelt trouble for recruiters and drug lords as it categorises drug mules as trafficking victims

“They (drug lords and recruiters) can now be charged under the Act.

“It is very exciting news. At the end of the day, under that Act, our people can be extradited.”

The Act was signed into law in July and describes trafficking as recruiting another person by means of a threat, abuse of vulnerability, deception or direct or indirect giving or receiving of payments, compensation, rewards, benefits or any other advantage. – amandaw@citizen.co.za

 

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