Thandi Maqubela’s lawyers quit over ‘totally inadequate’ fees

2014-08-04 13:52

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Sentencing proceedings of convicted killer Thandi Maqubela have been postponed in the Western Cape High Court.

Judge John Murphy said Maqubela would remain in custody until September 29, when she would have to tell him whether she was representing herself or had hired Legal Aid.

She would also have an opportunity that day to apply for bail.

"If you are unable to proceed on the 29th of September, my circumstances are such that I will only be available in October 2015. You need to deal with the sentencing and outstanding applications," he warned today.

Maqubela, dressed in a black suit and fuchsia turban, would be held at Pollsmoor Prison until next month.

In November, the same court found Maqubela guilty of killing her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela, in June 2009, despite not having conclusive medical evidence pinpointing a cause of death.

She was also found guilty of forging her husband's will and committing fraud by causing potential prejudice to his estate.

Her sentencing had been postponed to give her new defence team time to prepare.

But the court heard today that her private lawyers had withdrawn due to a lack of funds.

In an affidavit by Stan Fanaroff, read out by his Cape Town correspondents, it was revealed that the fees she had submitted were “totally inadequate”.

His firm had been under the impression that their mandate was only to argue in favour of mitigation of sentencing, based on obtaining a record of about 2000 pages.

But Fanaroff said Maqubela “moved the goalposts” and wanted them to argue for her to be released on bail and to represent her on appeal.

In addition, when they had finally received the record, it was 4500 pages.

He said Maqubela had also insisted that she only wanted advocate Kenny Oldwage to represent her.

Fanaroff said that he repaid the balance of funds owing to her and withdrew.

Judge John Murphy assented to the withdrawal and confirmed that Maqubela was aware of the withdrawal.

In November, the same court found Maqubela guilty of killing her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela, in June 2009, despite not having conclusive medical evidence pinpointing a cause of death.

She was also found guilty of forging her husband’s will and committing fraud by causing potential prejudice to his estate.

Her sentencing had been postponed to give her new defence team time to prepare.

Today, Maqubela asked to address the court, insisting that Fanaroff had mistreated her and that she wanted an investigation into his conduct.

“It’s on record that he said to my Lord that he has got sufficient funds. In June, Mr Fanaroff wanted R1 million from me. So that prejudiced me,” she told Murphy.

“R1 million in June, when I am in custody, I think is really putting me in a difficult situation. I didn’t plan not to have a legal representative.”

Murphy said he understood her predicament but that she had to decide now whether to represent herself or hire Legal Aid for sentencing.

For the next 30 minutes, Maqubela tried to describe her “pain” at being unfairly treated by her lawyers.

Dressed in a black suit and fuchsia turban, she referred to evidence she had brought along in a folder.

When Murphy pressed her to decide what to do, she asked to apply for bail so that she could represent herself and consult with her witnesses.

Murphy said he was disinclined to grant bail at this stage.

“I have considered it and for the same reasons I refused you bail previously, I would refuse you again now,” he said.

He believed that she would be able to consult with witnesses in the court’s holding cells or at Pollsmoor Prison.

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