Cwele finds out the law has no favours
Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele's former wife and drug dealer Sheryl Cwele must be ruing her decision to appeal the original sentence and conviction for drug dealing she and her Nigerian accomplice Frank Nabolisa received.
Mrs Cwele and Nabolisa were found guilty of drug-dealing and were each slapped with a12-year jail term.
They had recruited Charmaine Moss to smuggle drugs for them from Turkey, and another woman, Tessa Beetge, was required to smuggle cocaine into South Africa from Brazil.
Beetge was arrested, tried and convicted for drug trafficking and is now serving eight years in a Brazilian jail.
Mrs Cwele tried her luck with the Supreme Court of Appeals but opted to challenge only her conviction, while Nabolisa thought he would hedge his bets and tackled the sentencing as well.
It all came to a head on Monday when five Supreme Court of Appeals judges not only upheld the lower court's ruling, but also found the 12-year jail term inadequate for the kind of crime committed and increased it to 20 years.
It was encouraging that the law in this instance proved it has no favours for the powerful - for as a spouse of a cabinet minister, let alone a man in charge of state security and intelligence, Mrs Cwele must have felt a touch untouchable.
That make-believe world of hers is certainly in ruins now.
Often the fall guys in such cases are the not-so-innocent drug mules like Beetge that are left to carry the can, while the real drivers of the drug trade such as Mrs Cwele and Nabolisa come out smelling of roses.
This country is now all too familiar with stories of South Africans languishing in prisons all over the world for drug trafficking and drug dealing. Some have paid with their lives for feeding their greed in pursuit of a quick buck.
The SCA commended the courage of Beetge's mother, whose perseverance and determination culminated in the entrapment of the chief culprits - Cwele and Nabolisa - who must now pay for their crimes.
It is a happy ending, in as far as the war against drugs is concerned, that must be welcomed by all right-thinking South Africans.
The only unfortunate bit is the stigma that will remain forever a shadow of Minister Cwele.
The inference will always be drawn, fairly or otherwise, of the irony of the man supposedly in charge of intelligence in this country not knowing what his wife was up to.