Sheryl Cwele’s sentence has been reduced to the original twelve years by the Constitutional Court. The court did the same with Nigerian Frank Nabolisa’s sentence — both terms were reduced from 18 to 12 years — and the court stated that the Appeal Court had no legal right to increase these sentences to 18 years.
Nabolisa and Cwele, ex-Director for Health Services of the HCM, were convicted of dealing in cocaine by the Pietermaritzburg High Court in May 2011, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The Mercury newspaper has reported that while the application challenging the increase in sentence was brought by Nabolisa on his own, the judgement makes specifical reference to Cwele, saying the issue of her sentence was not competently placed before the Court of Appeal for re-evaluation. It is not clear whether Cwele will automatically benefit from the judgement, or whether her lawyers will have to make a further court application. According to the Mercury, Judge Chris Jafta and six judges concurred, and noted that the issue was not the seriousness of the offence, ‘which may well justify the sentence of 20 years’ or the competency of the SCA to increase the sentence, but concerned the process followed by the state in seeking and obtaining the increase in sentence.