Bleak prospects: Thandi Maqubela, who murdered her husband, Judge Patrick Maqubela. Photo: Courtney Africa.

Cape Town - From behind the bars of Pollsmoor Prison where Thandi Maqubela is awaiting sentence for the murder of her late husband, Acting High Court Judge Patrick Maqubela, she now faces a fight for millions of rand effectively frozen by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).

The R7.2 million in question is her share in the estate of her late husband.

This week the AFU

obtained a provisional restraint order against Maqubela. And if the jailed widow cannot stop the unit from getting a final order, it intends to entirely strip her of her multimillion-rand share of the estate, by applying for a confiscation order.

This emerged in papers placed before the Western Cape High Court this week, and although the application was heard on Tuesday, Maqubela first learnt of the news yesterday.

AFU advocate Muhammed Kagee confirmed that the order was served on her at Pollsmoor yesterday, and that a copy was also served on the Master of the High Court in Gauteng.

The unit argues that, on the basis of the common law principle that de bloedige hand erft niet (a bloody hand does not inherit), Maqubela is not entitled to a cent.

The widow, who is facing a life term in jail, has seven weeks to show why the provisional restraint order should not be made final.

The acting judge was found dead in his Bantry Bay flat on June 7, 2009, wrapped in a sheet, with a bloodied pillow covering his face.

Nine months later, Maqubela was arrested and, throughout her trial, insisted that her husband had died of natural causes.

However, Judge John Murphy last year convicted her of the murder.

He also convicted her of fraud and forgery, finding that she had falsified her husband’s will and, to the prejudice of her own children, altered the scheme of distribution in her favour.

Maqubela is preparing to present evidence in mitigation of her sentence at her next court appearance on August 4.

In an affidavit before the court, AFU regional head Gcobani Bam said Judge Murphy’s judgment dealt extensively with the financial position of the deceased estate, and how it would have been distributed among the acting judge’s heirs.

It showed that, two weeks before he was killed, the acting judge applied for a life policy valued at R20m. He requested that the proceeds, in the event of his death, be paid to his estate.

He died intestate (without a will), and the Master of the High Court appointed her as executor. After her arrest, she was removed as executor.

Two days after her arrest, she claimed to have discovered a will in which her husband’s son and daughter from his previous marriage were disinherited, and her daughter from a previous relationship was included. It was this will that the court found to be forged.

The court found that there was R12m available for distribution after payment of the estate debts.

“Accordingly, the trial court found that, on the deceased having died intestate (without the forged will), (Maqubela) would still be entitled to her half share of R6m as a surviving spouse who was married in community of property to the deceased,” Bam said.

He added that she would also be entitled to a R1.2m share when counted with all the children of the deceased.

Bam submitted the judgment therefore indicated that Maqubela benefited R7.2m from the murder of her husband and that, due to her involvement, she had no right to the share.

He submitted that there were reasonable grounds to believe that a confiscation order would be granted, and an application for such an order would be made before Maqubela was sentenced, he said.

Judge Monde Samela granted a provisional restraint order on Tuesday.

Weekend Argus