Judge’s widow shocked over probe

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IOL oct 10  Thandi Maqubela_3186 DONE

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The Thandi Maqubela trial continues. File Photo: Jason Boud

Cape Town - Deceased judge Patrick Maqubela's widow Thandi appeared shocked to hear an inquest into her husband's death had changed to a murder investigation, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Investigating officer Colonel Reynold Talmakkies told the court he took over the investigation after the judge's DNA and his widow's finger-prints were found on a piece of crumpled cling-wrap plastic in the judge's luxury apartment.

As the new investigating officer, he also changed the investigation from an inquest to a murder probe.

On June 9, 2009, two days after the judge's body was found, he went to the apartment in Bantry Bay, where he found the widow.

“I introduced myself to her, and informed her that I had changed the investigation from an inquest to murder, and that I was the new investigating officer,” Talmakkies said.

“She appeared shocked, and said her husband had died from natural causes, and had not been murdered. She went so far as to say that the deceased had died from a heart attack,” he said.

The next day, Talmakkies requested a senior colleague to return to the apartment to search for possible clues.

During the search, exhibits were seized, including a roll of cling-wrap plastic, and a vacuum cleaner.

The widow and her business partner, Vela Mabena, are on trial before Judge John Murphy, on charges of murder, fraud and forgery.

They have pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

The fraud and forgery charges relate to an alleged fake will, with the deceased's forged signature on it, which was presented to the Pretoria office of the Master of the High Court.

On June 12, 2009, Talmakkies received a call from Maqubela's Pretoria-based advocate, who said Maqubela had requested a second post mortem examination.

Talmakkies put the advocate in touch with the pathologist who had done the first post mortem.

Talmakkies said he attended the second post mortem, together with Professor Lorna Martin and other doctors.

“During the second post mortem, I told them about the crumpled piece of cling-wrap, and asked if it could be used to smother anyone. They said yes,” he said.

Soon afterwards, a forensic report on the crumpled cling-wrap said the deceased's DNA and the widow's fingerprints were found on the plastic.

After he had arrested Maqubela at her Sandton home, and brought her to Cape Town the next day, Mabena was arrested on March 25, 2010, at the Claremont police station.

Talmakkies said both were brought before court on April 1, 2010, when Maqubela was released on R100 000 bail and Mabena on R20 000, he said.

The hearing continues on Tuesday. - Sapa


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