Called as a defence witness in mitigation of Maqubela’s sentence, Beatrice Khakhaza, 71, described the impact she had had on her employees and others. She was being questioned by Maqubela’s lawyer Thomas Tyler. Khakhaza had managed her leather goods store in Claremont, Cape Town, and then her hair salons around Cape Town.
She said Maqubela had wanted to open a retirement home in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
“She said she wanted to assist the aged people who are being ill-treated by their children. She didn’t like to see anyone struggling,” Khakhaza said through a Xhosa interpreter.
Maqubela helped her employees pay for their children’s school uniforms and goods without deducting it from their salaries, the court heard.
When she changed her business focus, she gave a hair salon away to a loyal employee as a gift and closed the others.
Khakhaza said Maqubela took out retirement policies for her.
When Maqubela travelled to her late husband’s homestead in the Eastern Cape, she was dissatisfied with the conditions his mother and two sisters were living in and had building material delivered to them from Johannesburg.
When Khakhaza went there for a funeral, she saw the “beautiful house” and “mansion” that had been built there.
The former manager said Maqubela had helped many with her Forever Living health products scheme, which she was passionate about.
“Whenever she opened her mouth, she would talk about Forever and she had thousands and thousands of people [working underneath her].
“I mean to say that people are having businesses today and they started off with Forever,” she said.
Khakhaza became emotional when asked how the trial had affected Maqubela, saying it had “disabled” her.
“She is not herself. That is why I am so upset.”
As with the other defence witnesses called on Monday, prosecutor Bonnie Currie-Gamwo did not cross-examine Khakhaza was she excused from the stand.
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.
On Monday, a Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital report was handed up following Maqubela’s 60-day observation.
Judge John Murphy declared she was fit to understand the proceedings and conduct her defence.
Tyler indicated he would call more witnesses when sentencing proceedings resumed on Wednesday.