Thandi Maqubela statment ruled admissible

2012-10-11 22:28
Thandi Maqubela (Picture: Sapa)

Thandi Maqubela (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - A statement made to the police by the widow of deceased acting judge Patrick Maqubela was admissable evidence against her, the Western Cape High Court ruled on Thursday.

Thandi Maqubela and her business partner, Vela Mabena, have pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering the judge in June 2009.

Prosecutors Bonnie Currie-Gamwo and Pedro van Wyk allege that the judge was suffocated by means of a piece of plastic cling-wrap over his face.

The two accused deny this, and claim that the judge died from a heart attack. The trial this week developed into a trial-within-a-trial.

Marius Broeksma, for Maqubela, contested the validity of the sworn statement that Maqubela made to investigating officer, Captain Etienne van Ede.

Broeksma contended that Maqubela ought to have been considered a suspect in the murder of her husband at the time she made the statement.

For this reason, she ought to have been warned of her constitutional right to remain silent.

The court found the investigation started as an inquest into the judge's death, with no foul play suspected.

The statement was made during the inquest investigation, when Maqubela was considered an inquest witness and not a suspect in a criminal investigation.

Maqubela ought to have been warned of her right to remain silent, in terms of the Judges' Rules, but the failure to do so did not violate her constitutional rights, nor did it constitute an unfair trial, the court concluded.

In the statement, Maqubela told of arrangements she had made with her husband to go together to the Eastern Cape where they were building a home.

They had arranged to meet at the Cape Town International Airport, but he did not arrive as planned.

She said she was unable to reach him by cellphone, and she then boarded a plane to Johannesburg to visit her father instead.

She returned to East London the next day.

In the Eastern Cape, she was still unable to contact her husband, and she eventually phoned a friend in Cape Town, who went to Maqubela's apartment.

The friend reported to her that her husband's body was found in the apartment.

Maqubela declined to testify in the trial-within-a-trial, and both teams had only closed their cases in the trial-within-a trial.

The trial itself will continue on Tuesday next week, when the State is expected to lead further testimony.

- SAPA

Read more on:    thandi maqubela  |  vela mabena  |  patrick maqubela  |  cape town
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