After spending three months behind bars, Thandi Maqubela - convicted of murdering her husband, acting Judge Patrick Maqubela - is set to be back in the media spotlight when her sentencing proceedings commence on Monday.
Maqubela was supposed to start presenting evidence in mitigation of her sentence in November, shortly after she was convicted.
However, her advocate, Marius Broeksma, requested time to prepare to lead expert evidence in mitigation of sentence, and to obtain an expert report.
Maqubela was taken into custody immediately after she was found guilty.
She later applied for bail, saying that it would be impossible for her to flee because she had become so well known in South Africa as a result of the extensive media coverage of the trial.
It was also argued that she had stuck to her bail conditions - with the exception of one incident, when she was hospitalised.
But Judge John Murphy refused the application.
Throughout her trial, Maqubela insisted her husband had died of natural causes.
However, in an unusual finding, Judge Murphy convicted her of murder, even though he found the cause of the acting judge’s death was inconclusive.
While he could not make a finding on the cause of death, he added that the ultimate issue in the case was whether the non-medical facts excluded death by natural causes.
He said the prosecution had presented a compelling motive as, in the months and weeks before the killing, the couple’s relationship had deteriorated significantly and Maqubela, outraged by her husband’s extra-marital conduct, had gone about exposing his affairs.
A host of State witnesses testified that Maqubela had been bent on revenge.
The court also had before it cellphone evidence that showed Maqubela had been in possession of her husband’s cellphone for four days from June 5, 2009. She had used the cellphone to create a false record of communication, so that it would appear as if he was still alive, while intermittently using it for her own purposes.
For 84 consecutive hours, from the morning of his death until after his body was discovered, the acting judge’s cellphone had been in the immediate proximity of his wife.
On the fraud and forgery charges, he found that she had falsified her husband’s will and, to the prejudice of her own children, altered the scheme of distribution in her favour.
Her co-accused, Vela Mabena, was acquitted after the court found that the State had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that he had been involved in the killing.
- Sunday Argus