‘Elusive' cling wrap delays murder trial

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sep 5 Thandi Maqubela DONE INLSA Thandi Maqubela outside the Labour Court. Picture: Jason Boud

The cling wrap allegedly used to suffocate Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela to death is at the centre of a delay in the murder trial.

Prosecutors have been trying to locate the key piece of evidence since last week.

It is believed to be at the police’s headquarters in Pretoria, but State advocate Bonnie Currie-Gamwo said on Monday this was “not a definite”.

The State was scheduled to call two witnesses on Tuesday, but Currie-Gamwo said they, too, were expected to testify on what she described as the “elusive” cling wrap.

It is the prosecution’s case an 80cm-long, three-layered piece of Glad Wrap was used to suffocate the acting judge, then discarded in a wastepaper basket in the main bedroom of his flat where his body was found.

The acting judge’s DNA was found on the plastic, as well as his wife Thandi’s thumbprint and palm print.

Thandi Maqubela and her co-accused, Vela Mabena, are accused of murdering the acting judge.

Last week, Maqubela’s defence counsel, Marius Broeksma, put in a request to see the cling wrap.

He has indicated that he is unwilling to cross-examine State witnesses who testify as to DNA and fingerprint evidence without having seen the exhibit.

Currie-Gamwo asked the court to postpone the matter to Monday to allow for time for the police to locate the cling wrap.

Judge John Murphy, who has been specially seconded from the Pretoria High Court, granted the postponement.

Maqubela appeared to be in high spirits on Tuesday before court proceedings began, laughing at a joke Broeksma made.

The Johannesburg widow, who is in Cape Town for the trial, is known for her stylish dress sense and oversized sunglasses.

But she has toned down her court garb in recent weeks, opting for more traditional clothing.

Her husband was allegedly murdered on June 5, 2009. His body was discovered on his bed in his flat in Bantry Bay two days later.

But Maqubela maintains that her husband died of natural causes.

In addition to a count of murder, she also faces charges of fraud and forgery for allegedly altering her husband’s will. - Cape Times

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