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Cape Town - Thandi Maqubela lied about details of her husband's death and this affected her credibility, Western Cape High Court Judge John Murphy said on Monday.
He found that she was in possession of acting judge Patrick Maqubela's cellphone from the Friday in 2009 when he was believed to have died, until the following Monday.
Murphy said she had led the court to believe that a policeman who wanted to blackmail her husband took his phone and placed it in a jacket pocket in his apartment to be discovered by police that Monday.
“We reject this hypothesis as a falsehood concocted by accused one (Maqubela) to avoid culpability,” Murphy said in his long judgment.
He said her testimony was contradicted by cellphone records, which showed that three of her cellphones activated the same base stations or those near her husband's phone in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and the Eastern Cape in that period.
She and her co-accused Vela Mabena have pleaded not guilty to suffocating Patrick Maqubela with cling-wrap in his Sea Point, Cape Town, apartment on June 5, 2009.
She has also denied guilt on fraud and forgery charges related to a document she claims is her husband's will.
Murphy said that had Maqubela had an innocent use for her husband's phone, she would have told the police the Monday it was discovered. Instead, she hid her use of the phone from police.
Murphy said this “persistent denial” affected her credibility, showed she was given easily to lying under oath and had unrealistic expectations that a court might believe her “flagrant lies”.
“Much will depend on the circumstances. There may be reasons for telling a lie other than realisations of guilt.”
The court found that Maqubela had lied about her intention to travel to the Eastern Cape on the Friday of her husband's death.
Cellphone records showed that she sent an sms to Justice Minister Jeff Radebe that morning, saying she and her husband were travelling together to the Eastern Cape.
A few minutes later, she sent an sms to her daughter saying she would be returning to Johannesburg.
Murphy said she explained to police that she changed her mind about her destination only after 2pm that day, but that cellphone records showed she phoned SA Airways at noon to book her flight to Johannesburg.
“These messages and calls suggest accused one (Maqubela) misled Mr Radebe.
Her statement to police about changing her mind... is just as false,” the judge said.
Murphy said it could be logically inferred that Maqubela knew her husband would not be joining her because she knew of his whereabouts.
The judgment continues.