It has emerged that Sheryl Cwele, the wife of Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele, has apparently been arrested, due to her alleged links to a high profile drug case (see report). This particular case has already seen other arrests, including a South African woman who is currently serving eight years in a Brazilian jail for the possession of narcotics. This is disturbing news and raises a number of serious questions regarding the Minister. These include whether he was in any way involved in these alleged offences, and whether he has received any information from his wife that could compromise his role as Minister of State Security.
He reportedly told journalists last night that he knew nothing of the issue; this is difficult to believe in light of the fact that his wife relayed in the Mercury how this ordeal had affected her entire family. In March last year, the Pretoria News reported that the incumbent chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, Cecil Burgess, had said that the "The minister ... has denied that his wife is involved." Given that the ANC government's position on this matter previously rested on the claim that allegations against the Cwele family were false, this arrest must necessarily cast new doubts on the Minister's position. We believe that he must demonstrate to the South African public that he is in no way compromised by this matter; if he fails to do so, he ought to stand down from his position right away.
I will request that the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence brings Minister Cwele before Parliament at the next available opportunity. Parliament must be provided with assurances that the Minister is acting in the interests of the South African people and in defence of the South African Constitution, and not in the interest of drug peddlers.
Statement issued by Theo Coetzee MP, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of state security, January 29 2010
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