Cape Town - Thandi Maqubela has just a few days to decide whether she will fight a court order that has in effect frozen her multimillion-rand share of the estate of her husband, a judge, whom she has been convicted of murdering.
She will have to make her decision from behind bars in Pollsmoor Prison, where she is awaiting sentencing.
At stake is R7.2 million.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has set its sights on her being stripped of her share of the estate of Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela.
This is on the grounds that her share constitutes the “proceeds of unlawful activities”. Alternatively, the unit is relying on the common law principle that “a bloody hand does not inherit”.
For now, however, the AFU has obtained a provisional restraint order from the Western Cape High Court – the division in which Patrick Maqubela was as an acting judge at the time of his murder in June 2009.
Although the order was granted by Judge Monde Samela on Tuesday, Maqubela first had news of it on Friday when the papers were served on her.
The papers were also to be served on the Master of the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg and the executor of Patrick Maqubela’s estate.
If Maqubela hopes to prevent the provisional order from being made final, she will have to give notice, within five court days of having been served, of her intention to oppose it.
She would then have three weeks to submit answering papers. The matter would return to court on August 26.
Maqubela is also expected back in court next month for her criminal case. Sentencing procedures have yet to begin.
Judge John Murphy found her guilty in November of murder, as well as of fraud and forgery for falsifying her husband’s will.
In an affidavit, AFU regional head Gcobani Bam argued that Maqubela had “benefited” from the murder.
It appeared from Judge Murphy’s findings that there was R12m available for distribution among the heirs after payment of the estate’s debts.
Bam said the court had found that, with Patrick Maqubela having died intestate, his wife would be left with a half-share of R6m as a surviving spouse because the couple were married in community of property. She would also get an additional share of R1.2m, bringing her sum to R7.2m.
“I submit that the said amount constitutes proceeds of unlawful activities in that it is ‘property’ or an ‘advantage’ received in connection with the murder of the deceased,” Bam’s affidavit read.
“I submit that on the said basis, alternatively on the basis of the common law principle that a bloody hand does not inherit, she has no legal right to the said property or advantage.”