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Cape Town - The indictment in the Thandi Maqubela murder trial is to be amended to “better serve” the proper administration of justice, the Western Cape High Court ruled on Thursday.
Maqubela is accused of murdering her husband Patrick Maqubela, who was an acting judge in the Western Cape High Court at the time of his death in June four years ago.
She is on trial with a business associate Vela Mabena.
Both have pleaded not guilty before Judge John Murphy.
Maqubela alone faces two additional charges - forgery and fraud - relating to her husband's will which she is alleged to have falsified and presented at the office of the Master of the High Court in Johannesburg.
Currently, the indictment alleges that Maqubela and Mabena
caused the death of the judge by suffocating him with a piece of plastic clingwrap placed over his face.
The judge ordered the indictment to be amended so as to allege, in the alternative, that death was caused if not by strangulation then by means unknown to the prosecution.
The judge said the amendment would not jeopardise the two accused in any way.
The amendment would serve the proper administration of justice, he said.
It was the court's duty to reach the truth of the matter to the best of its ability.
Murphy disagreed with defence counsel Marius Broeksma's contention that the amendment would render the indictment “vague and embarrassing” Äterminology often used by defence lawyers to have criminal charges “thrown out”.
Murphy said the amendment to the fraud and forgery charges would also not jeopardise Maqubela's defence.
Instead, it would merely serve to elaborate on the details.
Because of the amendments he would readily grant both the prosecution and defence teams permission to reopen their respective cases to place further testimony before the court.
Any such applications had to be brought before the presentation of closing arguments, the judge said.
The case was postponed to Tuesday.