Maqubela patologist can’t make ruling

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Thandi Maqubela in court. File photo: Jason Boud

Cape Town - The pathologist who conducted an autopsy on acting judge Patrick Maqubela on Wednesday refused to commit to a definitive cause of his death.

The State spent the morning in the Western Cape High Court re-examining Dr Sipho Mfolozi on his findings.

Maqubela's widow Thandi, and her co-accused businessman Vela Mabena, are charged with murder, forgery, and fraud.

The State alleges that they suffocated Maqubela in his luxury Sea Point apartment using plastic cling-wrap placed over his face, on June 5, 2009.

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

Judge John Murphy asked the pathologist if he was willing to indicate the most likely scenario for death, based on his findings at the scene, the autopsy, and the post-mortem analysis.

The well-spoken pathologist spent almost a minute in the witness box pursing his lips and staring into the distance, presumably thinking of an appropriate answer.

“In the absence of any cause for the haemorrhage histologically (through the study of tissues), that's a difficult one,” he said.

“I wouldn't want to commit myself to saying it was due to baro-trauma (pressure on the lungs).”

The judge had wanted to know whether the damage noted on the body was due to injury before death or simply a side-effect of decomposition.

Mfolozi had previously testified that pressure on the lungs could have been as a result of drowning, an explosion, suffocation, or decomposition.

Judge Maqubela was found with blood on his face, which was later revealed to be from his lungs. - Sapa


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