Days after judge’s death widow called phone, court told

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st p6main Thandi 350 inlsa Cape Town 06-08-12 -Thandi Maqubela, on trial for the alleged murder of her husband, Acting Judge Patrick Maqubela arrives at the labour court Picture Brenton Geach

Leila Samodien

THERE was contact between Thandi Maqubela’s cellphone and that of her husband’s in the days following the judge’s alleged murder.

This was stated in the Cape Town Labour Court yesterday as the murder trial resumed after an eight-month hiatus.

Thandi is being tried alongside her co-accused, Vela Mabena, a health products salesman.

The pair are accused of slaying Judge Patrick Maqubela, who was acting on the Western Cape High Court bench at the time. However, the defence maintains he died of natural causes.

State advocates Pedro van Wyk and Bonnie Currie-Gamwo picked up where they left off in December by leading cellphone evidence in an attempt to demonstrate Thandi’s coming and goings – as well as who she had had contact with – in the days leading up to and following her husband’s death.

st p6sec Thandi- Vela 3412 Co-accused Vela Mabena in the Thandi Maqubela case, accused of killing her husband, acting judge Patrick Maqubela, follows proceedings in the Cape Town Labour Court today Picture Brenton Geach inlsa

Vodacom forensic liaison manager Petro Heyneke testified there had been several calls and SMSes between Judge Maqubela and Thandi’s phones in the days before his death.

There had also been communication between the cellphones of Thandi and Mabena.

At one point, Thandi’s defence counsel, Marius Broeksma, questioned how the testimony was relevant, saying it was common cause that the couple were married and that Thandi had had contact with Mabena because they worked for the same company, Forever Living health products.

However, Van Wyk said they were seeking to establish the extent of the contact between her cellphone and that of her husband, as well as the cellphone contact between the two accused.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s regional spokesman, Eric Ntabazalila, later told the media that it was the State’s case that Thandi had been using her husband’s phone after his alleged murder.

The State alleges that Maqubela was killed on June 5, 2009. His body was discovered in his flat two days later.

Heyneke said Thandi had called her husband’s number several times on and after June 5.

Her cellphone had been transmitting from various vicinities in the Eastern Cape on June 7 and June 8, both days on which she had made calls to her husband’s number, even after having been informed of his death.

She had arrived in Cape Town at about 1pm on June 8.

Her cellphone records showed that she had received a call from Mabena’s number at 4.20pm that day.

Later that day, she received another call from his number – one at 5.43pm, which lasted just over a minute, and another at 6.17pm that lasted almost two minutes.

At 8.01pm that night, she made a call to her husband’s number.

These calls had triggered Vodacom’s base station at President Apartments in Bantry Bay, Cape Town – the acting judge’s flat – indicating that she was in or near the complex during the calls.

The court has previously also heard testimony that the acting judge’s phone was active all weekend following his alleged murder up until June 8

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