Web of lies saw widow convicted
EVEN though the manner in which Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela died, and the weapon used to kill him remains a mystery, the web of lies and deceit his widow had spun around herself was enough to enmesh her this week, and ultimately see her convicted.
Describing her as “vindictive”, Judge John Murphy said Thandi Maqubela told no fewer than 30 to 40 lies on material issues, in and out of court.
He divided her lies into six broad categories: lies regarding her possession and use of her husband’s cellphone; lies about her behaviour and movements; lies about her husband’s whereabouts, condition and conduct; lies told about the nature of her relationship with him; lies aimed at exonerating her exposure of his misconduct; and lies about her relationship with her co-accused, and the extent of their contact.
Borrowing from UK and Australian precedents and authority, Judge Murphy said courts must always approach the probative value of an accused’s lies conscious of the fact that there may be reasons for the telling of a lie, apart from guilt.
“The weight attached to lies and dishonest testimony depends on the circumstances of each case. And one should recognise that people lie for reasons other than a consciousness of guilt,” he said.
But he had no kind words for Maqubela in his analysis of her lies, saying that these were aimed at avoiding an inference that she knew of her husband’s death, and was in some way implicated.
“She did not lie out of panic, confusion, poor recollection or to escape an unjust accusation, to protect some other person or to avoid a consequence extraneous to the offence. She deliberately and repeatedly fabricated and developed a strategy aimed consciously at self- exculpation,” he said.
Maqubela’s lies about her movements after her husband’s death suggested that she knew by midday on June 5 that he was incapacitated or dead and that she was in the flat with the body while creating the impression that he was still alive.
“These were lies an innocent person would not tell, and thus constitute an admission against interest arising from the realisation of guilt.”