“What this document is, as inelegant as it is, is a will,” Marius Broeksma said in closing argument. Thandi Maqubela and her co-accused Vela Mabena have pleaded not guilty to suffocating the acting judge with cling-wrap in his Sea Point, Cape Town, apartment on June 5, 2009.
Maqubela has also pleaded not guilty to forging her husband’s signature on his will, and then fraudulently presenting it at the Johannesburg office of the Master of the High Court. The forgery charge on the indictment was recently amended from “making of the signature” to “making of the will”.
On Monday, the State said no will was lodged at the time of Maqubela’s death and his financial adviser was adamant there was no will. It was only on April 23, 2010, that the Master’s Office received a letter from his widow stating she had found a will among some documents and that it was dated March 2009.
Prosecutor Bonnie Currie-Gamwo said the document did not look like a will that a person with legal knowledge would have drafted. Broeksma said there was no evidence to suggest Maqubela had much experience with estates and the writing of wills.
Judge John Murphy raised the point that Maqubela had been SA Airways’ chief legal adviser and would likely have drafted “some pretty big contracts”. However, Broeksma said the State had not proved any proficiency in that regard.
He suggested that the sloppiness of the document could be explained by the possibility of the acting judge writing it while drinking whisky with friends. Murphy said the strongest point regarding the will seemed to be the acting judge’s phone call to his insurance company asking that the beneficiary be changed.
“The inference which can be drawn from that… is that he didn’t have a will,” Murphy said. The State alleged on Monday that Maqubela had a monetary incentive to kill her husband because of a R20 million Liberty Life policy he took out a month before his death.
Currie-Gamwo said his widow would have gained R11m with the will and R7.2m without it. Broeksma said the two had been living apart to a great extent.
“Obviously, as far as accused number one [Thandi Maqubela], it is apparent that she was a successful businesswoman, while the deceased was in financial trouble,” he said.