Witnesses describe Maqubela as “caring”

FILE PICTURE: Thandi Maqubela appears at the Cape Town High Court. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lulama Zenzile)

FILE PICTURE: Thandi Maqubela appears at the Cape Town High Court. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lulama Zenzile)

A retired domestic worker and nanny told the Western Cape High Court on Monday how much her former employer, Thandi Maqubela, cared about her.

Nokwanda Gonyela, 61, called as a defence witness during sentencing proceedings, said she worked for the convicted killer around 20 years ago, until her retirement in 2010. Maqubela visited Gonyela in hospital after she had a stroke. Gonyela moved with the family to Johannesburg because Gonyela’s husband refused to pay maintenance.

She said Maqubela gave her furniture and approached her husband’s employer to try get maintenance money paid directly from his salary.

“Even when my husband became ill, she assisted me in taking him to hospital and also gave me some medicine from the products she was selling,” Gonyela said through a Xhosa interpreter.

Maqubela apparently travelled to the Transkei when Gonyela’s husband died and gave money for his funeral. Gonyela felt she was a part of the family, received a bonus every year, and was promised a two-roomed house. When acting judge Patrick Maqubela died, Thandi Maqubela said she would continue to make sure the house was built.

She described the Maqubela’s relationship as loving.

“I never saw anything. I never saw them arguing, never saw them fighting. I only saw them as people loving each other.”

Earlier, Maqubela’s old friend Thuli Mzamane described her as a caring woman who was passionate in advocating for the vulnerable.

In November 2013, the same court found Maqubela guilty of killing her acting judge husband Patrick Maqubela in June 2009, despite not having conclusive medical evidence pinpointing a cause of death. She was found guilty of forging her husband’s will and committing fraud by causing potential prejudice to his estate.

The judge was based at the Western Cape High Court at the time of his death.

A panel of mental health experts at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital unanimously found she was fit to understand sentencing proceedings after she acted out of character at an appearance in September. The panel’s report was handed up on Monday, following the 60-day observation.

Judge John Murphy declared she was fit to understand the proceedings and conduct her defence.

Her lawyer Thomas Tyler indicated he would call a number of witnesses for the purposes of sentencing.

READ MORE: Maqubela competent: Judge

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