Judge's widow locked up in Pollsmoor

12 August 2011 - 03:24 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
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Thandi Maqubela, the stylishly dressed widow accused of murdering her judge husband, has been sent to the notorious Pollsmoor prison.

This was after the stiletto-shod businesswoman, who was married to Cape Town High Court Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela, failed to appear in court on July 25.

No one could track her down for days. She was eventually traced to Helen Joseph Hospital, in Johannesburg, where she was receiving treatment for an illness the nature of which is not known.

The court found that she had contravened her bail conditions by failing to inform the investigating officer that she had moved out of her plush Sandton home after it was sold.

Yesterday, she appeared in the Cape High Court wearing a stylish black and white outfit, heavy gold-hoop earrings and sunglasses, with a manicure to match.

The prosecution asked that her R100000 bail be forfeited.

When she was discharged from hospital, Maqubela was taken into custody in Gauteng before being flown to Cape Town. She had been held at the Sea Point police station since Thursday last week.

She appeared in court the following day and asked to be released on bail again. She promised to remain in Western Cape for the duration of the trial.

The case has been beset by delays because Maqubela said she could not afford a lawyer.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said the prosecution was ready to proceed.

Yesterday, Pretoria High Court presiding judge John Murphy said he received a report from the Legal Aid Board, which he had asked to assign a lawyer to Maqubela.

Her legal team, including advocate Philip Higgo and attorney Howard Rubenstein, had withdrawn, citing her financial constraints.

Murphy postponed the matter to August 26, when he will deal with the bail application and legal representation.

Maqubela, who in the past was driven to court in police cars, was bundled into a police van and taken to Pollsmoor.

After the proceedings, Ntabazalila said Higgo had indicated that he would once again represent her for the bail application.

"The previous legal representatives, who withdrew because they were not paid, have now come on board again," said Ntabazalila.

"We have also been assured by the family that they will have money for the trial."

Maqubela was arrested last year, almost a year after her husband's body was found in his bed in his Sea Point flat.

Police at first believed the judge had died of a heart attack, but his family and friends suspected something more sinister.

Maqubela and former pastor Vela Mabhena were charged with the judge's murder. Mabhena is out on bail.

Four judges and the late judge's former colleagues at the Cape Town High Court will testify in the trial, which starts on October 10.

The trial is set to run until December.

Maqubela is also charged with forging her husband's signature on a will in which she is declared to be the main beneficiary of the judge's estate.

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