Nothing suspicious at judge's home - friend
Cape Town - A friend noticed nothing suspicious when he went to the luxury apartment where deceased acting Judge Patrick Maqubela lived, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.
This was the testimony of retired medical doctor Marshall Gobingca at the trial of the judge's widow, Thandi, who, together with businessman Vela Mabena, are charged with the judge's murder.
It was Gobingca who, according to security guard Mark Benjamin, arrived twice at The President Suites in Bantry Bay, where the judge lived, to inquire about the judge's whereabouts.
The same day, June 7 2009, the judge's body was found in his apartment.
Gobingca told the court he had known the judge since the year 2002, and had enjoyed a "cordial relationship" with him.
"We met once in a while, not frequently," he told the court.
Gobingca recalled a telephone call he received soon before his visit to the complex.
It came from a family member of the judge, who was concerned about the judge and inquired about his whereabouts.
Not where he was supposed to be
"The caller did not know where the judge was, and he told me the judge was not where he was supposed to be," Gobingca told the court.
"The judge's family in the Eastern Cape was expecting him, and knew that the judge spent most of his time alone in his apartment."
Gobingca said it was "thought to be a good idea" that he go to the judge's residence, to see if the judge was perhaps experiencing problems.
"We agreed it was necessary for me to go to the judge's apartment," Gobingca said.
On his arrival, the security informed him that the judge had not gone for his early morning jog that day.
He said he had a suspicion that the judge might be in his apartment, experiencing difficulties, and he suggested to the guards that they try to enter the apartment, or at least establish his whereabouts.
Gobingca said: "I requested permission to go to the apartment, where I could stand outside and dial his number, and hope to hear from outside whether there was any movement inside."
He said "nothing looked suspicious" as a security guard accompanied him to the apartment, where he rang the judge's number but got no reply.
They returned to the security office, where he phoned the judge’s wife to ask her permission to enter the apartment.
"I did not want to enter the apartment alone... I was scared, but I wanted to understand the security procedure," Gobingca said.
"It was necessary for the widow to instruct the caretaker to open the apartment."
The trial continues on Tuesday.