Maqubela poses no threat: lawyer

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The prosecution had made a compelling case of motive against murderer Thandi Maqubela, Judge John Murphy found. Photo: Cindy Waxa

Cape Town - Convicted killer Thandi Maqubela is not a danger to society and should therefore be released on bail, her lawyer argued in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

Marius Broeksma said the murder of her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela, by means unknown, was her first offence and that the degree of violence implicit in the charge was not high.

He said her husband'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.”

He was arguing for her release on bail ahead of sentencing proceedings on February 17.

Last month, Maqubela was found guilty of killing her husband on June 5, 2009. Judge John Murphy convicted her despite not having conclusive medical evidence pinpointing a cause of death.

He 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 of committing fraud by causing potential prejudice to his estate.

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.”

Broeksma said Maqubela was not a flight risk and that her passport was being held by the investigating team.

One had only to look at her conduct when judgment was handed down last month to see she would abide by any bail conditions, as she had then, he said.

“Even before the final day, the court made several adverse or strong findings against my client.... Instead of running away, she returned each day until the very end.”

He said the only time she had not abided by her bail conditions was when she was hospitalised and missed a pre-trial hearing.

She was not a malingerer, because she had remained in hospital for two days after the investigating officer arrested her.

However, Currie-Gamwo said the court record would reflect that Maqubela had not notified anyone of her hospitalisation. It was only when a warrant of arrest was issued that she let the State know where she was.

She said Maqubela had also changed residences twice during the two-and-a-half year trial without notifying the State or the court.

Broeksma said it would be difficult for Maqubela to run and hide, because her photograph had been widely published in numerous newspapers.

“She is a well-known person in the whole of the country. To suggest she could in any way seek to hide-out in such remote corners of South Africa is highly improbable.”

The State argued that Maqubela had not made the court aware of her financial position.

“She's well-connected, well-resourced and therefore able to evade her trial,” Currie-Gamwo said.

Broeksma refuted this, and said Maqubela had relied on Legal Aid, for which a means test had found she qualified.

He implored the court to release her so she could make future arrangements for two of her university-going children, and so he could properly consult with her before sentencing.


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