Maqubela: pathology expert testifies

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thandi feb 7 CAPE ARGUS Widow Thandi Maqubela at the Cape High Court Picture: Tracey Adams

 Cape Town - A specialist forensic pathologist was called to testify in the murder trial of Cape Town High Court acting judge Patrick Maqubela's widow, Thandi, on Wednesday.

Professor Lorna Martin told the court she was present in the mortuary when a second post mortem on the judge's body was done by Dr Patricia Klepp in 2009.

“We had discussed our findings together. We were picking each other's brains, as one does, to get an opinion,” she said.

They agreed there was an undetermined cause of death and that there were several possibilities to explore.

She said the investigating officer was also present and told them about disparities in the criminal case.

The State alleges that Maqubela's widow and her co-accused, businessman Vela Mabena, suffocated Maqubela in his Sea Point apartment by placing plastic cling-wrap over his face on June 5, 2009.

The widow then allegedly forged her dead husband's signature on a fake will.

She, however, maintains that he died of natural causes.

Martin said she had been told cling-wrap could be a possible murder weapon.

“The death is not inconsistent with suffocation,” she said.

She studied the case dockets, which included witness statements and cellphone evidence, in 2010 and compiled a short report with her findings on a probable cause of death.

Defence lawyer Marius Broeksma objected to the admission of the report on the basis that Martin had come to a finding using untested affidavits in the docket, before witnesses had testified.

He also contended that she was qualified only to give her opinion on medical evidence.

Martin is head of the provincial health forensic department and the division head for forensic medicine and toxicology at the University of Cape Town.

Broeksma said only the court could look at all types of evidence holistically and make a finding.

After many adjournments, Judge John Murphy ruled the report inadmissible, but that Martin's oral evidence-in-chief could be considered. - Sapa

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