Maqubela amendments 'prejudicial'

2013-08-13 14:45
Thandi Maqubela (Picture: Die Burger)

Thandi Maqubela (Picture: Die Burger)

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Cape Town - Thandi Maqubela would have conducted her defence differently had her murder and forgery charges been amended before the trial, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

"Our contention is that the State, in effect, bound itself [in the indictment], putting its flag to its mast, and the defence approached the entire matter accordingly," Marius Broeksma told the Western Cape High Court.

The defence would likely have sought further expert medical evidence.

Broeksma said the current charges were neither invalid nor defective.

"The only shortcoming is that it may be said that the State simply failed to prove the case that they had adequately alleged in the charges."

Broeksma was arguing against the court's proposed amendment of the charges against Maqubela and co-accused Vela Mabena.

The two have pleaded not guilty to suffocating her husband, acting Judge Patrick Maqubela, with cling-wrap in his Sea Point, Cape Town, flat on 5 June 2009.

Thandi Maqubela has also pleaded not guilty to forging her husband's signature on his will, and then fraudulently presenting it at the Johannesburg office of the Master of the High Court.

Changes to the indictment

Last month, Judge John Murphy indicated he intended making changes to the charges on the indictment.

On the murder charge, he wanted to extend the cause of death by adding "or means unknown" to "suffocation with plastic".

Regarding Thandi Maqubela's alleged forgery of her husband's will, he wanted to amend the charge from "making of the signature" to "making of the will".

Broeksma said that had the charges stood as such at the start of the trial, he would likely have called more witnesses to present medical evidence.

The defence may well have asked for the medical preparations next to the deceased judge's bedside table to be forensically analysed, and for a cardiologist to "further indicate the heightened likelihood of a natural death".

Broeksma said the amendment to the murder charge made an otherwise "fairly specific charge" a vague one.

Objections to the amendments

Maqubela was prejudiced in that she could no longer ask for further particulars to make the scope of the charge clearer.

He said she had the constitutional right to be informed of the charge with sufficient detail, and to have the trial concluded without unreasonable delay.

Murphy asked the State how it felt about the possible amendments.

"The State does not object to the amendments at all... the amendments as submitted by the court are evidence-driven," prosecutor Bonnie Currie-Gamwo replied.

"If we had to re-charge his client, the State would be relying on the same facts. That says to me then that there is no prejudice."

She said the State did not have any further evidence to present in terms of the origin of the judge's will, for example.

Murphy reserved his judgment on whether to amend the charges until Thursday.

Read more on:    thandi maqubela  |  vela mabena  |  patrick maqubela  |  cape town

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