Slain judge's will in question
Cape Town - High Court litigation is underway to have the alleged forged will of slain acting judge Patrick Maqubela declared invalid, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
The slain judge's widow, Thandi, is on trial for his alleged murder, together with co-accused Vela Mabena.
The widow had pleaded not guilty before Judge John Murphy to charges of murder, fraud and forgery.
On the latter two counts, she is alleged to have forged her deceased husband's will, and to have fraudulently presented it at the office of the Master of the High Court in Johannesburg.
Mabena faces a charge of murder to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Mabena's involvement in the alleged murder has not yet been explained.
The Chief Master of the High Court in SA, Lothian Basson, told the court he was the Master of the High Court in Johannesburg at the time of the judge's death in June 2009.
He said his job was to protect the interests of vulnerable beneficiaries and creditors in deceased estates.
Maqubela's estate was brought to his attention when the slain judge's purported will was lodged at the master's office.
This happened after the estate had already been lodged as being without a will.
At about the same time, the judge's widow was arrested for his murder, he said.
The purported will would remain valid until declared invalid by the High Court.
He said the will gave the widow the "lion's share" of the slain judge's estate, and seriously impacted on the inheritance of the son, Duma.
The judge's estate was initially lodged as "intestate", or without a will, and the son had stood to inherit substantially in terms of the laws governing intestate estates.
This changed drastically when a will was suddenly produced, he said.