Cape Town - Killer Thandi Maqubela, the businesswoman convicted of murdering her husband, Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela, is broke and representing herself legally, as she can no longer afford lawyers.
She is due back in court soon, where she will have to convince a judge not to jail her for life.
According to retired attorney and family friend Les Civin, Maqubela could not keep the privately appointed lawyers who were briefed to represent her months ago, because she did not have any money.
“So she’s in a difficult position right now,” Civin, who advises the family from time to time, told Weekend Argus this week.
He added that she would have to explain the situation to the court at her next appearance on August 4.
In November, Judge John Murphy found Maqubela guilty of her husband’s death in his Bantry Bay flat on June 5, 2009.
At her last court appearance on February 20, it emerged that Maqubela had fired her Legal Aid lawyer, Marius Broeksma, who represented her throughout her trial.
Instead, defence advocate Kenny Oldwage, who represented murder accused Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, was to come on record for her, instructed by Johannesburg law firm Stan Fanaroff and Associates.
But the firm is no longer acting for her, it confirmed this week.
Civin said he understood that it was for financial reasons that Maqubela could not keep the firm. He added that she would now have to look to the court for direction.
To add to her financial woes, Maqubela also has to defend herself against allegations in an Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) application aimed at stripping her of her assets.
In that application, her share of the deceased’s estate was frozen earlier this month after the unit obtained a restraint order against Maqubela.
Maqubela hopes to prevent the AFU from getting a confiscation order, despite her legal and financial predicaments, even if she has to do so herself.
Maqubela is in Pollsmoor Prison while she awaits sentencing. But this has not stopped her from taking on the AFU. This week a handwritten notice, addressed to AFU advocate Muhammed Kagee, was filed at court.
Dated July 14 – three days after she was served with the restraint order – she wrote: “I, Thandi Maqubela, the defendant, hereby furnish notice of the intention to defend the above matter.”
The notice, which was neatly written out, was sent to the AFU via registered post.
In the restraint application, the AFU submitted that Maqubela’s R7.2 million share constituted the “proceeds of unlawful activities”.
The unit’s case was that, from the trial court’s findings, R12m was available for distribution among the acting judge’s heirs after payment of the estate’s debts.
Since the acting judge died intestate, his wife would be left with a half-share of R6m by virtue of their marriage in community of property, as well as an additional share of R1.2m.
The AFU’s case was that Maqubela therefore benefited from her husband’s death.
“I submit that on the said basis, alternatively on the basis of the common law principle that de bloedige hand erft niet (the bloody hand does not inherit), she has no legal right to the said property or advantage,” AFU regional head Gcobani Bam said in an affidavit.
The AFU matter is to return to court on August 26.