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Thandi Sheryl MAQUBELA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Maqubela had been “humiliated and outraged” by her husband’s infidelities
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 5, 2009
Date of birth: 1955
Victim profile: High Court Judge Patrick Maqubela (her husband)
Method of murder: Suffocated with clingfilm after being subdued or restrained by undetectable means, chemical or physical
Location: Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Status: Found guilty of murder, fraud and forgery on November 7, 2013. Pending sentence
photo gallery

Thandi Maqubela sentencing postponed

November 20, 2013

Sentencing proceedings against convicted killer Thandi Maqubela were postponed by the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Her lawyer Marius Broeksma asked for a postponement until February 17.

"On behalf of the accused, I formally apply for a postponement in the matter to present expert evidence on sentencing," he said.

He told Judge John Murphy he had been unable to find a clinical psychologist because of the time of year. Prosecutor Bonnie Currie-Gamwo had no objection to the postponement.

She said that while the trial had taken a long time, she had sympathy for the defence's quandary. Maqubela would remain in custody.

She was found guilty of killing her husband Patrick, an acting judge, on June 5, 2009. 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 Thandi Maqubela's conduct, a plethora of lies and her persistence in "irrational subterfuge", which was wholly incompatible with an innocent person.

The court found Patrick Maqubela's serial adultery had brought the relationship to an explosive point in 2009. He was in a distressed state and confided to others the day before he was killed, on June 4, 2009, that he wanted to divorce his wife.

She was also found guilty of forging her husband's will and committing fraud by causing potential prejudice to his estate.

Murphy said it was unlikely Patrick Maqubela would have left almost his entire estate to his wife, and disinherited some of his children, when considering the state of his marriage.

Maqubela's co-accused and former business colleague, Vela Mabena, was acquitted on the murder charge because the evidence against him was not as strong.

The State had not proved his involvement beyond reasonable doubt and the acquittal was based on a finding of "not proven" rather than "factual innocence".


Black widow Thandi Maqubela guilty, co-accused acquitted

November 7, 2013

The Western Cape High Court has found Thandi Maqubela guilty of murdering her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela.

Her co-accused, Vela Mabena, was acquitted on the basis that the state had not proved his involvement beyond reasonable doubt.

“Accused number one [Thandi Maqubela] is found guilty and accused number two is found not guilty,” said Judge John Murphy.

He said the acquittal was based on a finding of “not proven”, rather than of “factual innocence”.

Mabena left the dock and Maqubela stood alone as a swarm of photographers jostled for a position around her.

She handed a large, black leather bag and a pink file to her daughter and then hugged her.

A policewoman gestured to her to put her hands behind her back. She smiled and complied before being led down to the cells.

The court found that Patrick Maqubela’s serial adultery brought the couple’s relationship to an explosive point in 2009.

He was in a distressed state, and confided to others the day before he was killed, on June 4 2009, that he wished to divorce his wife.

“Accused one was in a vengeful and destructive mode,” said Murphy.

“She had appointed private investigators to investigate his private life, had threateningly confronted his lovers, and had disgraced him in the eyes of his friends, relatives and colleagues.”

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe saw her hours before the death and described her as angry and excitable.

Murphy said Thandi Maqubela’s propensity to become excitable when challenged was demonstrated more than once during her testimony.

The court could not make a finding on how the acting judge had died.

“At best, there exists a mere possibility that the deceased was suffocated after being subdued or restrained by undetectable means, chemical or physical, but even here we are in danger of drifting into the realm of speculation,” Murphy said.

However, proof of the exact means of death was not a prerequisite for conviction.

Murphy said death from natural causes or suicide was excluded primarily by Thandi Maqubela’s conduct, a plethora of lies and her persistence in “irrational subterfuge” which was wholly incompatible with an innocent person.

He also found her guilty of forging her husband’s will, and of committing fraud by causing potential prejudice to his estate.

It was unlikely Patrick Maqubela would have left almost his entire estate to his wife, and disinherited some of his children, when considering the state of his marriage.

“The inescapable conclusion is that Exhibit D [the alleged will] was not drafted by a lawyer,” Murphy said.

“It is even more unlikely that a professional attorney of many years standing, with extensive experience in commercial law, employed at a reputable firm of attorneys in Johannesburg, and serving as an acting judge at the time, would have drafted such a will or put his signature to it.”


Maqubela’s killer smile

November 8, 2013

Cape Town - Smiling slightly as officers handcuffed her, murderer Thandi Maqubela was led from the dock down the stairs to the holding cells – convicted of killing her husband, Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela.

Maqubela might have been elegant and stylish – but Judge John Murphy used other words to describe her in the Western Cape High Court when he found her guilty of murder, fraud and forgery.

“Vengeful”, “vindictive”, “lying” and “manipulative” were some of the adjectives he associated with the woman he found guilty of murdering her husband, whose shrouded body was found in his Bantry Bay apartment on Sunday, June 7, four years ago.

On Thursday, Judge Murphy completed his long judgment in a sensational trial that captured imaginations as allegations were made of infidelities, corrupt relationships with police, blackmail, Viagra, sex boosters, call girls, nude photographs and cling film.

The court has found that the acting judge died at some point on Friday, June 5, 2009 and that his wife had been present while his body lay decomposing in a heated bedroom.

Maqubela’s business associate and co-accused, Vela Mabenawas acquitted of all charges. In addition to being found guilty of murder, Maqubela was convicted of fraud and forgery relating to the acting judge’s will.

Judge Murphy started delivering his 220-page judgment on Monday.

As the verdict came, Maqubela and Mabena remained expressionless. As Judge Murphy told Mabena he was free to go, Maqubela calmly replaced her reading glasses with her trademark sunglasses, and handed her cellphone to her daughter. She then raised her arms to be cuffed, and was led down into the holding cells below the court while photographers clicked away. Someone in the gallery shouted: “Bye, Thandi.”

Judge Murphy said the prosecution had made out a compelling case of motive.

Maqubela had been “humiliated and outraged” by her husband’s infidelities.

“She was determined, in response, to destroy his career and reputation in the public domain,” he said. She was “plainly in a destructive mode”.

The fact that he had decided to leave her and she had discovered that he had reinstated a life insurance policy that would benefit her to the tune of millions in the event of his death – were the circumstances that “cumulatively” established “a credible motive to kill”.

The State set out to implicate Mabena and phone records showed that there was a fair amount of contact between him and Maqubela around the time of the acting judge’s death.

Judge Murphy labelled the communications as “suspicious”, as the pair claimed to hardly know each other.

However, the evidence against Mabena was “circumstantial and proves merely suspicious circumstances”, he said.

He noted that Mabena did not testify, but added that before an inference of guilt could be drawn, the case against him had to be strong enough to call for an answer.

“The mere fact that Mabena probably knew of the demise of the deceased and acted suspiciously before giving his statement to the police is not sufficient to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that he participated in killing the deceased.”

Mabena had no apparent motive, financial or otherwise, to kill Patrick Maqubela.

Turning to Maqubela, witnesses said they had been shown a dossier compiled by her containing information relating to the acting judge’s extra-marital affairs with younger women. It included photographs, copies of e-mails and text messages.

She had testified that she’d exposed her husband’s behaviour to get support to help him manage a bipolar disorder. But the judge said that she ultimately wanted to use the dossier to unmask him publicly in the media.

The supposed bipolar diagnosis was a “deceitful fabrication” to justify her behaviour, which was “a vengeful ploy to destroy her husband’s reputation”.

He referred to a quote in his testimony by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, whom Maqubela had approached about her husband’s behaviour: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

In relation to the forgery and fraud charges, Judge Murphy said that the document handed in as a court exhibit, was a “document falsely purporting to be a copy of a non-existing will of the deceased” and was forged.

He added that Maqubela had falsified the document “with the intent to misrepresent to the Master of the Court”that the document was the acting judge’s will.

The “will” had effectively disinherited the judge’s children from a previous marriage in her favour.

Maqubela would have been the only person to have benefited financially had the forged will been accepted as avalid, and her share of the acting judge’s estate would have increased from 60 percent to |92 percent.

After the judge adjourned the court, relatives and friends of the Maqubelas, some of whom had flown to Cape Town from Gauteng for this week’s judgment, said they were relieved it was over.

Some of Patrick Maqubela’s sisters cried, while other relatives wore T-shirts with his picture on them.

His son, Duma Maqubela, said it had been a long four years and that the family was relieved.

Mazwaki Maqubela, Patrick Maqubela’s first wife, said it was “a sad day” and that her heart went out to Thandi Maqubela’s children and her family.

But in the same breath she added that justice had been served, and that “Thandi is a danger to the community”. She said Thandi Maqubela deserved a life sentence.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Eric Ntabazalila said they were happy with the outcome. “And we’re happy that the family is happy.”

The NPA issued a statement saying justice had been done.

Ntabazalila said: “We are happy to point out that the judge found that ‘the prosecution has not discharged its onus and proved the case against him beyond reasonable doubt’. In colloquial terms, as opposed to strict legal terms, our finding is one of not proven rather than an affirmation of factual innocence.”

Maqubela’s bail was revoked despite attempts by her attorney to have it extended.

She is expected back in court for sentencing on November 20.


Thandi Maqubela ‘created impression husband was still alive’

November 5, 2013

Thandi Maqubela created the impression that her husband was alive when she knew he was dead, Judge John Murphy has said in the Western Cape High Court.

Handing down a lengthy judgment today, he said this was one of the legitimate inferences drawn from pieces of evidence and false accounts of her movements.

Murphy said the description of her activities on June 5 2009, given in police statements and in testimony, was inconsistent with the mapping of her cellphone signals by an expert.

“Her two versions are so at odds that both can be rejected as untrue.”

She and her co-accused, Vela Mabena, have pleaded not guilty to suffocating acting Judge Patrick Maqubela with clingfilm in his Sea Point, Cape Town, apartment on June 5 2009.

She has also denied guilt on fraud and forgery charges related to a document she claims is her husband’s will.

Murphy listed the other inferences that could be drawn from Thandi Maqubela’s “patent dishonesty” of her whereabouts that day.

He said she had no intention of flying to Qumbu in the Eastern Cape with her husband that day, but sought to create that false impression to the police and other people.

“She knew by midday that the deceased was incapacitated or dead in the apartment,” Murphy said.

He said it could be inferred that she was in the apartment with his body, hid the fact that he was dead and “took steps to create the impression” that he was alive when she knew he was not.

Yesterday, Murphy said the judgment was over 220 pages long. It contained complex issues of facts and law, and would take two to three days to read out.

He asked the media to be prudent in this time and to avoid reaching preliminary conclusions “because the judgment is so complex and there are so many factual findings to be made”.


Judge Maqubela's wife declines to testify at murder trial

October 10, 2012

Thandi Maqubela, charged with the murder of her husband, Western Cape acting judge Patrick Maqubela, chose on Wednesday not to testify in her own defence in the Cape High Court.

Defence counsel Marius Broeksma announced Maqubela's decision in the court after prosecutors Bonnie Currie-Gamwo and Pedro van Wyk closed the State's case.

Defence attorney Randall Titus, representing Maqubela's co-accused, businessman Vela Mabena, at the same time said that his client had likewise chosen not to testify.

Both Broeksma and Titus told the court their clients would close their respective cases.

The accused appeared before Johannesburg-based judge John Murphy and assessor Danie Marais, and pleaded not guilty to the alleged murder.

Maqubela was also charged with fraud and theft, relating to her deceased husband's will. She pleaded not guilty to these charges as well.

The trial ended with a trial-within-a-trial, in which the prosecution launched an application to have a sworn statement made by Maqubela to a police captain, concerning her husband's death, admitted as evidence against her.

Broeksma opposed the application on the grounds that investigating officer Captain Etienne van Ede had failed to warn Maqubela of her right to refuse to make the statement and that whatever she said in it could be used as evidence against her.

Currie-Gamwo countered that the warning only had application if the person making the statement was considered a suspect in the case.

At the time the statement was made, Maqubela was not yet under suspicion for her husband's murder, and a warning was not required.

Currie-Gamwo added: "An inquest is an investigation into a death where no foul play is suspected."

Broeksma said Maqubela, at the time she gave the statement, was reasonably thought to be a suspect, by one or more of those involved in the investigation.

For this reason, she should have been pre-warned about her constitutional rights and it meant that her statement could not be received as evidence against her.

Judgment is expected on Thursday, on whether the statement may be considered as evidence.


Maqubela prints found near husband – report

September 5, 2012

The thumb and palm prints of murder accused Thandi Maqubela were allegedly found on a piece of plastic in the flat where the body of her husband was discovered.

Maqubela is on trial with co-accused Vela Mabena in the Cape Town Labour Court for the murder of her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela.

According to The Star, prosecutors allege the plastic was used to smother Maqubela’s husband.

Yesterday, the State mostly focused on the plastic, on which it said the acting judge’s DNA was also found.

The acting judge’s body and the plastic was found in his Bantry Bay flat in Cape Town, with his body discovered on June 7 2009, two days after he was allegedly killed.

Fingerprint expert Warrant Officer Barend Swanepoel testified on June 11 2009, that he and his then-commander Colonel Pretorius found the piece of plastic in a bin in the main bedroom.

Swanepoel said he had found nine prints on the plastic, which had been crumpled up, with two of them belonging to Maqubela.

He said he had no doubt that the prints belonged to Maqubela. Who the seven other prints belonged to was still unknown.

Mabena’s prints were taken by police, but none of his could be found at the flat.

Under cross-examination, Swanepoel said it was possible the fingerprints could have been lodged on the plastic when part of the original roll.

DNA analyst Warrant Officer Ridwaan Boltman, the second police witness, testified that he had found a “mixture” of DNA results on the plastic.

Following tests on two swabs taken, Boltman said each swab of the plastic contained DNA of a maximum of two people each.

The acting judge’s DNA was present, Maqubela’s DNA was not present, and “pieces” of Mabena’s DNA were present though not enough to prove the DNA was Mabena’s.


Details of sex and betrayal plague Maqubela prosecution

November 19, 2011

Some of the ground gained by Thandi Maqubela and Vela Mabena’s defence lawyers over the past two weeks was lost by revelations in court on Thursday that “erection pills” and condoms were found in Acting High Court Judge Patrick Maqubela’s robe following his death.

The sex and betrayal headlines that dominated the first week of the Western Cape High Court trial, in which Maqubela’s wife Thandi and fellow health products agent Mabena stand accused of the judge’s murder, receded over the last two weeks as the defence team methodically exposed gaps in police procedure. Security at the apartment complex where Maqubela’s body was found on June 7, 2009 was also probed.

Although witnesses have placed Thandi and Mabena at the apartment complex on the day the state says Maqubela was murdered, prosecutors Bonnie Currie-Gamwo and Pedro van Wyk have so far failed to provide concrete forensic evidence that Maqubela was suffocated in his Bantry Bay apartment on June 5.

Thandi’s advocate, Marius Broeksma, said medical evidence would be provided to show that the blood found on Maqubela’s face and the pillow that covered his face as he lay on his bed was consistent with the process of decomposition.

He also cast doubt on the security procedures at the apartment complex at the time, getting the handyman at the complex, Rashied Judaar, and its head of security, Leon Oliver, to admit that security guards sometimes allowed family and close friends into the complex without informing the tenants.

Judaar said there were such complaints from residents. The CCTV system that had been replaced a week before Maqubela’s death also did not record the comings and goings at the complex as security guards had not been properly informed about how to reset the recording device.

Aspersions were also cast on the evidence collected at the scene. Security guard Mark Benjamin and Maqubela’s friend Dr Marshall Gobingca, who, with Lester Peteni were the first people to see the body, testified that the police photographs of the scene did not correlate with what they had initially seen.

But one of the state’s main theories for a motive was repeated on Thursday. Evidence led that Thandi had spent up to three years gathering a dossier of details of her husband’s extra-marital affairs and intended to expose Maqubela’s infidelities to the media was backed up by Maqubela’s registrar, Joy Ely-Hanslo.

Ely-Hanslo said after hearing of Maqubela’s death, she went through the pockets of a court robe he had borrowed from Judge Lee Bozalek and was shocked to find “erection pills” and condoms in the pockets, which she later handed to police.

She also reported a mysterious phone call she received on June 5, 2009, the day the state says Maqubela was murdered, from a woman who identified herself as ‘Amanda’, an assistant nurse at Groote Schuur Hospital. Cross-examined by Broeksma, Ely-Hanslo said she did not believe Thandi had posed as “Amanda”. The trial resumes tomorrow with Judge John Murphy presiding.



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