Maphumulo has served as a magistrate in Durban and acted at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court — hearing some colourful, and heart-rending cases in both.
In the Durban Commercial Crimes Court she found a male sex-worker, Jonathan Peterson, guilty on 43 counts of fraud, forgery and uttering after he posed as a doctor, Andile Duma, in two Durban hospitals and grifted three business people out of R200 000 — promising them bogus hospital tenders. Peterson had told a court appointed social worker that he needed the money for anti-retrovirals (ARVS). But Maphumulo rejected the explanation saying that ARVs were free and sentenced his to six years imprisonment, suspended for three years.
Noting the “requirement to ensure that justice is done but justice also includes mercy” Maphumulo deviated from imposing life imprisonment on a mother who had drowned her twenty-month-old baby. Sitting in the KZN High Court in Durban Maphumulo, instead, sentenced her to twenty years imprisonment, half of which was suspended for five years, after considering her personal circumstances and psychological state.
Maphumulo told the commission that she had gained valuable advice and assistance from senior judges while acting, especially during the daily tea ceremony that kicked off the day’s trials in KZN – causing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to quip: “This tea works after all.”
When asked by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu why she wanted to be a judge, Maphumulo said she had “an aptitude” for adjudication which had been further enhanced by her “qualifications and skills acquired over the years”. She added that her appointment would “give confidence” to the broader KZN population to “see their people presiding”.
The commission noted her general lack of acting experience and that Maphumulo’s adjudicative experience centred mainly on criminal matters. She stressed that her limited acting opportunities was a matter out of her control.
Maphumulo had a judgement outstanding from July 2015 which was handed down a week before the interview.