JOHANNESBURG – (AFP) – Sheryl Cwele, the wife of South Africa’s intelligence minister, was fired Tuesday from her senior municipal job after being sentenced to 12 years in jail for drug trafficking.
“She has been dismissed as per the recommendation of the chairperson of the internal disciplinary hearing. The executive committee today went with the recommendation,” said municipal spokesman Simon Soboyisa.
Cwele was charged with misconduct by the Hibiscus Coast Municipality, south of Durban, where she was director of health and community services after she was found guilty of hiring young women as mules.
“She was found guilty on all charges,” Soboyisa told AFP about the verdict which was accepted by the municipality’s executive committee Tuesday.
“The municipality dismissed her but we have received an indication from her lawyer that they will appealing the decision.”
Cwele is also appealing her sentencing in May alongside a Nigerian, Frank Nabolisa, who was also jailed for 12 years by the Pietermaritzburg High Court in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Allegations of Cwele’s drug trafficking surfaced in 2009 after the arrest of Tessa Beetge, a South African woman caught in Brazil with 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) of cocaine worth almost $300,000 (208,000 euros).
Beetge’s parents told a South African newspaper that Cwele, a former neighbour, had arranged their daughter’s trip to Brazil after offering her a job overseas.
Beetge is currently serving a jail sentence in Sao Paulo.
The municipality, whose internal charges related to misconduct, put Cwele on leave without pay but she went to the labour court to win her salary back.
Cwele has 10 days to appeal the municipality’s decision and will remain on suspension with her salary payable until the process is finalised if she does so, said Soboyisa.
In May, Cwele’s husband, Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele, said through his spokesman that he would not comment on the matter until after the court appeal.