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Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

S African minister's wife Sheryl Cwele on drug charges

Sheryl Cwele
Sheryl Cwele has told local media she is innocent

The wife of South Africa's intelligence minister has been arrested on drug-dealing charges.

Sheryl Cwele, the 50-year-old wife of Siyabonga Cwele, appeared in court charged with conspiring to bring cocaine into the country.

Mrs Cwele was charged with procuring a woman to collect drugs in Turkey and of getting another woman to smuggle cocaine from Brazil.

She remains in custody until her bail application is heard in a week.

Mrs Cwele is facing the charges with Frank Nabolisa, a Nigerian national arrested in South Africa in December.

She told local media she was innocent.

Husband unaware

Sheryl Cwele's arrest followed that of Tessa Beetge, a South African woman arrested in Brazil in 2008 with 10kg (22lb) of cocaine inside her luggage.

Map

Beetge was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Newspaper reports linked Mrs Cwele to Beetge, before she took leave in December from her job as director for health and community services at the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.

She returned to work on Thursday, and was arrested at her office on Friday before appearing at Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa said Mrs Cwele faced one count of dealing in dangerous dependency-producing drugs and two counts of incitement to dealing in dangerous dependency-producing drugs, dating back to May and June 2008.

Her husband told a local newspaper he had no knowledge of his wife's alleged drug dealings.



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