Details of sex and betrayal plague Maqubela prosecution

2011-11-19 18:36

Some of the ground gained by Thandi Maqubela and Vela Mabena’s defence lawyers over the past two weeks was lost by revelations in court on Thursday that “erection pills” and condoms were found in Acting High Court Judge Patrick Maqubela’s robe following his death.

The sex and betrayal headlines that dominated the first week of the Western Cape High Court trial, in which Maqubela’s wife Thandi and fellow health products agent Mabena stand accused of the judge’s murder, receded over the last two weeks as the defence team methodically exposed gaps in police procedure. Security at the apartment complex where Maqubela’s body was found on June 7, 2009 was also probed.

Although witnesses have placed Thandi and Mabena at the apartment complex on the day the state says Maqubela was murdered, prosecutors Bonnie Currie-Gamwo and Pedro van Wyk have so far failed to provide concrete forensic evidence that Maqubela was suffocated in his Bantry Bay apartment on June 5.

Thandi’s advocate, Marius Broeksma, said medical evidence would be provided to show that the blood found on Maqubela’s face and the pillow that covered his face as he lay on his bed was consistent with the process of decomposition.

He also cast doubt on the security procedures at the apartment complex at the time, getting the handyman at the complex, Rashied Judaar, and its head of security, Leon Oliver, to admit that security guards sometimes allowed family and close friends into the complex without informing the tenants.

Judaar said there were such complaints from residents. The CCTV system that had been replaced a week before Maqubela’s death also did not record the comings and goings at the complex as security guards had not been properly informed about how to reset the recording device.

Aspersions were also cast on the evidence collected at the scene. Security guard Mark Benjamin and Maqubela’s friend Dr Marshall Gobingca, who, with Lester Peteni were the first people to see the body, testified that the police photographs of the scene did not correlate with what they had initially seen.

But one of the state’s main theories for a motive was repeated on Thursday. Evidence led that Thandi had spent up to three years gathering a dossier of details of her husband’s extra-marital affairs and intended to expose Maqubela’s infidelities to the media was backed up by Maqubela’s registrar, Joy Ely-Hanslo.

Ely-Hanslo said after hearing of Maqubela’s death, she went through the pockets of a court robe he had borrowed from Judge Lee Bozalek and was shocked to find “erection pills” and condoms in the pockets, which she later handed to police.

She also reported a mysterious phone call she received on June 5, 2009, the day the state says Maqubela was murdered, from a woman who identified herself as ‘Amanda’, an assistant nurse at Groote Schuur Hospital.?Cross-examined by Broeksma, Ely-Hanslo said she did not believe Thandi had posed as “Amanda”. The trial resumes tomorrow with Judge John Murphy presiding.

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