South Africa - report

SA security minister's wife goes to jail

AFP

There’s growing pressure on South Africa’s intelligence minister to quit or be fired after his wife and a Nigerian accomplice were jailed for drug trafficking this week. Opposition politicians say its inconceivable that the country’s top spy did not know what his wife was up to.

Advertising

Sheryl Cwele, the wife of South Africa's Minister of State Security, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

She’s been convicted of hiring young women as mules to smuggle cocaine into the country.

Her Nigerian coaccused, Frank Nabolisa, received a similar sentence at the Pietermaritzburg high court in the eastern province of Kwazulu-Natal.

Both have moved to appeal.

Minister Siyabonga Cwele is refusing to comment on the matter until after the appeal.

His wife’s lawyers argue she’s been manipulated by Nabolisa. Opposition parties intensified calls for the minister to resign.

African Christian Democratic party leader Kenneth Meshoe says Cwele has failed the state by not uncovering drug trafficking happening under his nose.

The head of the country's largest trade union federation, Zwelinzima Vavi, says this is the kind of thing that can only happen in a country that is close to becoming a banana republic.

Hennie Van Vuuren of the Institute for Security Studies says Cwele's wife has been implicated in transnational organised crime that took place at the time of his appointment.

If the intelligence services did not know about this, why not? And, if they did and informed President Jacob Zuma, what did he do about it?

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning