Maqubela widow out on R100 000 bail

Thandi Maqubela, charged with the murder of her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela, was released on R100 000 bail on Thursday.

Her release followed a bail application, not opposed by the state, in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, in which she insisted her husband died of natural causes.

“I am innocent of any wrongdoing,” she said in an affidavit handed in to court.

Her co-accused, Vela Mabena (47) was granted bail of R20 000, twice what his advocate said he could afford, and was released mid-afternoon after his family obtained the money.

Maqubela (55) in a black headcloth and scarf, and wearing sunglasses, walked out of the court shortly before 1pm.

Holding hands with her advocate, Kenny Oldwadge, for support, she kept her head bowed as they ran a gauntlet of photographers and cameramen.

Mr Maqubela (60) was found dead on his bed in a rented Bantry Bay, Cape Town, flat in June last year.

Police initially said he died of a heart attack, but later opened a murder investigation.

At the start of the bail application on Thursday morning, prosecutor Bonnie Currie-Gamwo told magistrate Vusi Mhlanga that the state did not believe either Maqubela or Mabena were a flight

Clinical depression
She said Maqubela’s health appeared to be precarious, and that the widow might be suffering from clinical depression.

The earliest available trial date in the Cape High Court was August 1 2011, and if bail was refused, Maqubela and Mabena would have to remain in custody until then.

She suggested bail of R100 000 for Maqubela, and R15 000 for Mabena.

Currie-Gamwo added however that she had been told that Maqubela had managed to raise only R70 000, and Mabena only R10 000.

She said the concept of bail was sometimes not well understood by “ordinary citizens” who thought it should be a pre-trial punishment.

In fact it should be decided on whether an accused would evade trial or not, and she did not have any indication that either Maqubela or Mabena would not stand trial.

Oldwadge read out an affidavit in which Maqubela said she was a businesswoman with interests in companies that included aloe and beauty products distributors, and with a monthly income of R18,000
was sole breadwinner for her three children.

State’s case against me is non-existent’
Maqubela said in the affidavit that it was clear from the report of a private post-mortem she commissioned that her husband had died of natural causes.

She did not believe she could be convicted of his alleged murder.

“I am confident that the state’s case against me is
non-existent,” she said. “I deny any wrongdoing in relation to my late husband’s death.”

Mabena said in an affidavit he too intended to plead not guilty to the charge.

He lived with his wife on the premises of the French consulate in Newlands, Cape Town, where she earned R5 200 a month as housekeeper.

He earned R3 000 a month as an agent for Forever Living health products.

He said he completed a theology degree in the United States in 1992, and had been offered a post as chaplain in the SA National Defence Force.

“I honestly believe that the state does not have a strong case against me,” he said.

“I will in all probability be acquitted on the charge as I am innocent.”

Handing down his ruling after an adjournment, magistrate Mhlanga set Maqubela’s bail at R100 000 and Mabena’s at R50 000.

He ordered they both report daily to police stations.

Mabena’s advocate Reuben Liddell immediately protested, saying bail was meant to be “non-penal”.

Asking that it be lowered to R10 000, he said that was the total amount Mabena’s family, friends and community members had managed
to collect.

An agitated Oldwadge also rose to his feet, saying Maqubela had with “great difficulty” raised only R70 000, and asking Mhlanga to reduce her bail to that amount.

In an unusual revision of his earlier ruling, Mhlanga reduced Mabena’s amount to R20 000, but refused to change Maqubela’s.

Both accused have handed their passports to police.

Mhlanga postponed the case to June 4, when the state is expected to serve indictments on Maqubela and Mabena. – Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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