Drug mule Beetge due home in SA any day

TESSA BEETGE
TESSA BEETGE

CONVICTED drug mule Tessa Beetge will arrive home before the end of the month.

Beetge, 35, was moved from Brazil’s notorious Penitenciária Feminina da Capital prison to a police holding cell last month after serving almost six years of her eight-year sentence.

Her aunt, Margie Olsen, said yesterday she had been told Beetge would be home before the end of this month.

“We really don’t know what to expect. As the time is getting closer, we know that it is going to be very emotional,” Olsen said.

Beetge’s teenage daughters will not be at the airport, however. They will meet her privately after she settles in.

Olsen said Beetge had chosen to live in Gauteng with a friend she had met in the Brazilian prison. She might visit family first as her grandparents were gravely ill.

“It’s really up to Tessa. She has a new life awaiting her and we will be there for her,” Olsen said.

Family members were preparing. “We want to whisk her away to an aunt’s home where we are compiling a beautiful wardrobe for her,” Olsen said. “Adjusting to freedom will be difficult and we are hoping to make it as easy as possible.”

But Beetge’s arrival was “Marie’s story”. Her mother, Marie Swanepoel, 61, died following organ failure in a Queenstown hospital in October.

Following Beetge’s arrest in Sao Paulo after Brazilian police found 10.23kg of cocaine in her baggage in 2009, Marie Swanepoel dedicated her days to proving that Beetge did not act alone, in a bid to have her sentence reduced.

Sheryl Cwele, the former wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, and Nigerian Frank Nabolisa had recruited Beetge to ferry drugs from South Africa to Brazil. Text messages and e-mails Swanepoel took to the police finally sank Cwele and Nabolisa’s defence.

When the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld and increased their sentences in 2012, SCA president Lex Mpati said it was only through the courage and determination of Beetge’s mother that the real culprits had been brought to book. – Nivashni Nair

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