Deceased judge was healthy, doctor says

2012-10-22 17:30
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Cape Town - A specialist physician testified on Monday that he gave acting judge Patrick Maqubela a clean bill of health less than a month before his death.

Court proceedings were transferred from the Western Cape High Court to the nearby Taj Hotel so that 84-year-old Dr Sidney Samuel Brett could testify via a video link-up from Johannesburg.

The doctor, who has more than 60 years of experience, was advised not to travel.

Brett testified that Maqubela had been his patient since 2006 and visited him for medical check-ups every six months.

Brett examined the 60-year-old acting judge a total of 14 times and every time his blood pressure was normal.

The last time he saw Maqubela was on 15 May 2009, just a few weeks before his body was found in his luxury Bantry Bay apartment on June 7.

The State alleges he was suffocated with a piece of plastic. His widow, Thandi Maqubela, and co-accused Vela Mabena are on trial for the alleged murder.

The physician told the court the most serious condition he had ever treated the judge for had been swollen salivary glands.

However, on his last visit his blood count, blood sugars, ECG, and stress test as well as lung test were "perfectly normal".

Brett said the only difference was that Maqubela had gained 5kg as he had not exercised for 10 months.

Maqubela weighed 78kgs and had a BMI of 26. Brett believed "he was in excellent health for his age".

During cross examination, defence lawyer Marius Broeksma suggested that a specialist pathologist found the judge's BMI (body mass index) was 28.7 at the time of his death and had characterised him as overweight.

Broeksma told the court that the investigating team found three kinds of flu treatments, hypertension medication, as well as medication for the treatment of gout, next to Maqubela's bed.

Brett testified he had never seen Maqubela with an attack of gout, but that he may have prescribed it as a standby treatment.

Broeksma also put it to the doctor that the pathologist's report found micardial fibrosis, consistent with previous injury.

But, Brett said that "in a man of sixty, you will find some fibrosis. I wouldn't think that's abnormal. He had no evidence of heart disease or heart failure".

Brett said he didn't believe there was any evidence of blockages in any of the coronary vessels - they were dilated and clean.

"... On clinical examination he had no organ damage whatsoever."

The physician said he prescribed Viagra for erectile dysfunction every time the judge visited, but was asked not to include it in his records as Maqubela wanted "to keep it very quiet".

Broeksma asked him if he was familiar with the condition sudden cardiac death to which Brett said he was, but it was usually associated with young people with inherited conditions.

Despite Broeksma's suggestion that cardio risks were associated with Viagra, Brett was adamant that it could not be a cause of death and could be used extensively.

He also dismissed the defence's suggestion that the judge could have died of cardiac arythmia, and said there had to be a history of heart disease.

Brett testified that he knew about the judge's infidelities, but didn't know about his financial difficulties, as Maqubela always "passed himself off a very rich man".

He didn't agree that Maqubela's extramarital affairs were adding to his stress and said "I think he felt rather proud of his acquisitions".

The trial continues.

- SAPA
Read more on:    patrick maqubela  |  cape town
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