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Cape Town - A police officer who had been blackmailing her acting-judge husband “followed” Thandi Maqubela to the Eastern Cape after his death.
This was Maqubela’s explanation for what was behind the State’s cellphone evidence - an integral part of their case - against her.
Maqubela took the stand in the Western Cape High Court for a second day yesterday.
She testified that a Joburg policeman had been blackmailing her husband Patrick with “compromising” photographs of him.
Two of the photos were presented as exhibits to Judge John Murphy, who immediately sealed them at the request of Maqubela’s defence counsel Marius Broeksma – meaning no one could access them without the permission of a judge.
Maqubela identified the police officer only as “Captain Solani”. She said the officer had been demanding money from her husband, which he could not afford.
Her husband had told her that Solani was sending the photos because he could not afford the money the officer was demanding. He had sent several messages to her husband’s cellphone number in 2008, one of which had contained his banking details. Another had said her husband had to send money “or else”.
Maqubela said she had confronted Solani and told him that if he didn’t stop, she would report him to the police minister. There had been a further phone call to her husband from the officer on May 22, 2009.
She testified that the acting judge, who the State alleges was murdered on June 5, 2009, had asked her to change her travelling patterns because the policeman had been following her. She said she also had a strong suspicion about the captain’s involvement in an attempted burglary at her home in April 2010 after she was released on bail.
Her gardener had seen two policemen at the premises, and when he tried to approach them, they ran away.
One of them, however, had left behind a cap, which Broeksma also presented to the court.
It is the State’s case that over the weekend following the acting judge’s death, Thandi had moved from Cape Town to Joburg, then to East London and Qumbu, and finally back to Cape Town. Her husband’s cellphone had been triggered in all the same areas that weekend.
She denied having her husband’s cellphone and said she did not know who had it.
When Broeksma asked her what she thought happened with regards to her husband’s cellphone “following” her to the Eastern Cape, she replied: “I wouldn’t know what happened, but I know I was followed.”
She said she suspected it was Solani and “whoever he was working with”.
She hadn’t, however, seen anyone during her trip.
The acting judge, prosecutors allege, was suffocated with a piece of cling wrap, which was found in a wastepaper basket in the main bedroom of his Bantry Bay, Cape Town, flat where his body was found on June 7, 2009. His wife’s thumbprint and palm print were on the cling wrap.
When Broeksma asked her how her fingerprints got on the plastic, she said she had no idea, but it was in the house and she had been living there.
Maqubela has yet to be cross-examined by the State.
The trial is set to resume on Monday.