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Maqubela sentence options delayed

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The most appropriate sentence for convicted killer Thandi Maqubela would be periodical imprisonment, a social worker told the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Arina Smit, called as a defence witness, said this sentence attempted to balance the interest of society, the seriousness of the offence, and Maqubela’s rehabilitation or healing.

According to the Criminal Procedure Act, a person given a periodical sentence had to serve not less than 100 hours (four days) and no more than two thousand hours (83 days).

In her 50-page pre-sentencing report, Smit had also recommended as an alternative a wholly suspended sentence.

However, she acknowledged that this sentence could be viewed as too lenient for murder, by the courts and society.

The wholly suspended sentence would be on condition that Maqubela, 60, pay for at least 20 sessions with a clinical psychologist to deal with the trauma of the crime, trial, detention in prison and public humiliation.

She would also have to submit to the supervision and control of a correctional or probation officer, and perform no less than 800 hours of community service.

Thomas Tyler, for Maquebela, had called Smit to the stand in mitigation of sentence.

She has worked for the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Re-integration of Offenders (Nicro) for 18 years.

Smit said Maqubela was not a danger to society and had a low risk of re-offending.

She should be offered the chance to remain productive in society, especially as she had started up 24 businesses, mostly aimed at enhancing social welfare.

“If she is to spend a number of years in prison, she will not be able to benefit the community and her children. It is important that she actually contributes to society,” Smit said.

Last November, 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 acting judge was based at the Western Cape High Court at the time of his death.

Smit said Maqubela was likely to develop medical and health issues if detained since she presented as blunted and numb in her interviews.

Maqubela had told her she had not been able to cry since being incarcerated.

“She has dissociated from her current experience as a coping mechanism… she hasn’t had the opportunity to grieve and for her, it is as if he is still alive.”

Although her two youngest daughters were not minors, Smit believed they were still psychologically and emotionally immature and needed guidance and approval from parental figures.

With both parents unavailable, they had suffered a double loss and this had impacted on their ability to finish their studies.

“Having been a social worker in practice, I have quite a few concerns about families and the disintegration of families. Family preservation would be important with regards to the accused.”

The report was based on three face-to-face interviews with Maqubela, interviews with her family and collateral information from other documents.

Smit will be cross-examined when sentencing proceedings resume on Thursday. SAPA

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