Maqubela bail hearing postponed

By Drum Digital
05 December 2013

Convicted killer Thandi Maqubela will hear next week whether she has been granted bail or will spend Christmas in Pollsmoor Prison.

Convicted killer Thandi Maqubela will hear next week whether she has been granted bail or will spend Christmas in Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town.

On Thursday, the Western Cape High Court heard arguments for and against her release pending sentencing proceedings on February 17.

Judge John Murphy ruled that her bail judgment would be handed down on Monday and she would remain in custody over the weekend.

Maqubela retained her stylish fashion sense despite being held in custody for a month.

She greeted her daughter Spethucwaka in the public gallery and the two said "I love you" to each other before the bail application started.

Last month, she was found guilty of killing her husband acting judge Patrick Maqubela on June 5, 2009. She was convicted despite no conclusive medical evidence pinpointing a cause of death.

At the time, Murphy said death from natural causes or suicide was excluded primarily by her conduct, a plethora of lies and her persistence in "irrational subterfuge", which was wholly incompatible with an innocent person.

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

Her lawyer Marius Broeksma argued on Thursday that she was not a flight risk nor a danger to society. He submitted that she was a first offender and the degree of violence implicit in the murder charge was not very high. The acting judge's death was closely linked to family strife and was not that of an arbitrary victim.

"I am going to submit that this is not a case where somebody went on a hunting spree... although violence has been found to be involved, it's not so severe."

Bonnie Currie-Gamwo, for the State, argued that Maqubela's crimes were serious.

"The State would contend that murder by its very nature is violent. Someone has lost his or her life," she said.

"The very fact that the victims in all three offences are her husband and three children... is indicative that she does not let familial ties get in her way."

The defence team believed another court might well come to a different finding on appeal, especially because the convictions were entirely based on circumstantial evidence.

Broeksma said the State had not only been unable to prove the cause of death but also unable to exclude natural causes.

Murphy agreed that he knew of only four or five cases in the last 200 years where a person was convicted for murder under similar circumstances.

Broeksma added it was a "most unusual step" to amend the charges against Maqubela so late into her trial. Should another court set aside the murder charge, Broeksma would recommend a non-custodial sentence for his client on the fraud and forgery charges.

Murphy said his understanding was that there was a minimum applicable sentence of 15 years in jail because the potential fraud involved more than R500,000.

The lawyer replied that a court on appeal may look to other factors. The State said a custodial sentence was the only option for the murder conviction.

-by Sapa

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