Judge shocked by death of colleague

2011-11-21 19:47
Cape Town - Western Cape High Court acting Judge Khalapi Moloi was "devastated" at the sight of fellow acting Judge Patrick Maqubela lying dead on a bed, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Moloi told the court he went to the Maqubela’s luxury apartment after receiving a call from medical doctor Marshall Gobingca, a friend of the deceased.

Gobingca, who had tried unsuccessfully to reach the acting judge by telephone, had already been to the apartment and seen a body on a bed, covered in a white sheet.

Gobingca wanted Moloi to go the apartment to identify the body, Moloi said.

The deceased’s widow, Thandi, and businessman Vela Mabena are on trial before Judge John Murphy, charged with Maqubela’s murder. They have both pleaded not guilty.

State advocate Bonnie Currie-Gamwo asked Moloi for details of the room.

"My main objective in going there was to see who was lying on that bed," Moloi said.

"I did not pay attention to what was lying around, because I was shocked and emotionally affected."

Devastation, surprise, shock

Moloi told the court he went to his car after seeing the body and immediately telephoned Western Cape Judge James Yekiso, who had also had a close friendship with Maqubela.

"Judge Yekiso’s reaction was the same ... devastation, surprise and shock that I felt," Moloi said.

"We kept asking ourselves what could have happened."

Moloi said he left the premises before Yekiso arrived.

Asked about his relationship with the deceased, Moloi said: "We had shared so many things, and we became even closer when we were both in the justice department together.

"He never had any medical problems that I was aware of. He never complained about anything, and was physically fit."

Moloi said Western Cape High Court judges held a meeting every Friday, when cases for the following week were allocated.

Attendance was compulsory, but Maqubela was absent without any reason or apology.

"I was surprised, as he was always at the meeting," Moloi said.

"On Fridays, after the meeting, the judges were engaged in appeals, and the deceased’s name was on the court appeal roll."

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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