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Cape Town - Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela’s cellphone continues to take centre stage in the Western Cape High Court where his widow, Thandi, and a business partner Vela Mabena are standing trial for his murder.
On Thursday Constable Christopher Botha, who searched the Bantry Bay apartment where Maqubela was found dead in June 2009, testified that he saw the deceased’s widow fiddle in the cupboard in which his cellphone was later found.
He said he and a colleague had gone to the flat on June 8 at about 11am to search for Patrick Maqubela’s cellphone.
They did not find it. At about 5.30pm that day, Botha and two officers returned. He saw Thandi Maqubela busy in the middle cupboard. After she had left,
“Captain Etienne van Ede searched the closet and found a Nokia cellphone in one of the jackets”, Botha testified.
His evidence, however, changed under cross-examination. When questioned
by Thandi Maqubela’s lawyer, advocate Marius Broeksma, Botha said: “I think she was busy in the cupboard but I don’t know what accused one was doing.”
He later said he could not remember what she was doing.
Broeksma told Botha that he either saw her handling a jacket in the cupboard or he did not. “I can’t remember,” Botha responded.
Broeksma said his client will testify that she went into the bedroom to help police search for the cellphone but she was told to leave.
He added that if Botha was searching around the table in the apartment, his back faced the cupboard and he could therefore not see what was happening behind him.
Broeksma put to Botha: “You can’t say if she had her hand near the cupboard?”
“That’s correct,” Botha replied.
On Wednesday a witness testified that she received an SMS from Patrick Maqubela’s phone on June 6, 2009. By then he had been dead for a day.
Earlier this week, the court also heard that Thandi Maqubela spoke to women he was alleged to have had affairs with and that she also photographed them.
The court also heard about SMSes in which she accused her husband of having an affair. One SMS, sent from her cellphone to his in December 2007, was seemingly not addressed to him but to a woman she thought he was having an affair with.
The SMS said: “If you don’t stop phoning my husband, you will regret it. The whole of South Africa will know how dirty you are. By the way, your clothes are still with me… the filthy underwear I took from the hotel.”
The State alleges the duo killed the acting judge by suffocating him in his apartment on June 5, 2009. But Maqubela intends to present evidence to show that he had died of natural causes, and that the blood at the scene was the result of decomposition. The trial continues on Monday.