Friend sought to spare judge's widow
Cape Town - After finding acting Judge Patrick Maqubela dead, a family friend told his widow he was still looking for him to spare her the shock, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
Lester Peteni was testifying in the trial of the judge's widow Thandi and businessman Vela Mabena, who are charged with his murder.
They have pleaded not guilty before Judge John Murphy.
Peteni, a university graduate, told the court he had known Acting Judge Maqubela since the early 90s.
They were friends and business associates, and had looked at a number of business opportunities together.
Questioned by State advocate Bonnie Currie-Gamwo, he said he also knew the judge's widow. From conversations he had had with Maqubela, he was aware there were problems in the marriage.
"The judge's wife was not happy about some of his girlfriends," he said.
Peteni said he received a telephone call on Sunday, June 7 2009, from the judge's nephew. He was looking for his uncle, who was supposed to have been in the Eastern Cape that weekend.
According to the charge sheet, the judge was murdered on June 5.
Peteni said he was asked to try and locate Maqubela.
"I phoned Thandi, and asked her where her husband was," he said.
"She said she was on her way to meet him in the Eastern Cape.
"I then phoned Dr Marshall Gobingca, who knew where the deceased lived."
Peteni said Gobingca was the "perfect" person to ask to go to the judge's home because he was a doctor and could help if there was something wrong.
Gobingca went to the Maqubela apartment and informed Peteni later that there was no answer when he rang the door bell.
Peteni, Gobingca and a security guard entered the apartment twice - the first time to find the body in the bedroom and the second time with police, who removed the sheet and a pillow from the body to reveal the judge’s face.
After the second visit, the judge’s widow telephoned Peteni to inquire about her husband.
"I told her we were still looking. I did not want to shock her," he said.
The case continues on Wednesday.