Sex, debt and betrayal in murder case

2011-11-05 15:04

Scorned wife Thandi Maqubela is also accused of forging will

Sex, betrayal, revenge, debt, high office and cold-blooded murder – these are elements in the high profile murder trial of Thandi Maqubela.

She is the wife and alleged murderer of slain acting High Court Judge Patrick Maqubela, whose case was heard in the Western Cape High Court this week.

Evidence led in court contained all the drama of a soap opera, except that Judge Maqubela’s death and its repercussions are very real.

Thandi, who is out on bail and dressed in high fashion for court appearances, stands accused, along with co-accused Vela Mabena – a health products agent – of murdering her husband.

Judge Maqubela was suffocated on June 5, 2009 in his Bantry Bay apartment but was only found two days later, lying on his bed with a bloodied pillow over his face.

It emerged in court that Thandi had spent up to three years gathering evidence of her husband’s extra-marital affairs. Hotel invoices, credit card slips, condoms and “sex tablets” were among the evidence of her husband’s philandering, apparently with a number of women.

She showed evidence of Maqubela’s infidelity to Justice Minister Jeff Radebe during a four-hour meeting in Cape Town a day before Maqubela was murdered.

Radebe, who was a friend of Maqubela, took the stand this week, testifying that Thandi had met him and called her husband a “sex addict”.

Radebe testified that Thandi told him she intended to expose the judge to the media and had sent photographs of her husband’s genitals to friends, family members and other judges.

Following the meeting with Thandi, Radebe contacted Maqubela, who told him that he knew Thandi had been spying on him and that he was afraid of her.

He said on June 6, a day after Maqubela died, but before his body had been discovered, Radebe received an SMS from Maqubela’s cellphone which read: “Yes Jeff, I did bad things to Thandi. I’m not myself. I need help.”

Thandi also told Radebe that she had no intention of divorcing Maqubela although it later emerged that the judge was planning a divorce.

Maqubela’s nephew Gabula Ndamse said his uncle told him in 2009 that he was seeking advice from a divorce attorney but had put the matter on hold following the death of Thandi’s mother.

Ndamse testified that Maqubela and Thandi’s relationship was strained and that they “did not really have a liking for each other”.

Ndamse said Thandi met him in December 2008 and told him about his uncle’s womanising. She handed him a file of information, including SMSes from women requesting money from Maqubela.

Ndamse admitted his uncle had several girlfriends. He said he became very worried when his uncle failed to turn up in Qumbu, Eastern Cape after scheduling two meetings there for June 5 and 6.

Crippling debt was revealed to have been a problem for the household, with the judge’s financial advisor, Shan Nissiotis testifying that Maqubela had run up R20 million in debt for properties and cars.

Nissiotis said Maqubela had taken out life policy cover worth R20 million a few months before he died, but did not know how to divide the benefits among his family or what settlement he should apportion to his wife.

Thandi is also alleged to have forged her husband’s will and lodged it with the Master of the High Court on April 26 last year. But according to Nissiotis, Maqubele had not drawn up a last will and testament as he was unsure as to how to distribute his estate.

The will, dated March 13 2009, names Thandi as the main beneficiary, inheriting more than 90% of her husband’s estate.

The will appointed Thandi as executor and her daughter from a previous relationship as an alternative executor, but it excluded Maqubela’s son and daughter born from a previous marriage.

The role of co-accused Vela Mabena in Maqubela’s murder has not yet been revealed in court.

The trial continues tomorrow.

 – West Cape News 

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