“An innocent person, upon knowing or witnessing the death, would have acted differently,” he said in passing judgment on Maqubela and her co-accused Vela Mabena.
“The fact that she did not act as an innocent person might act points to a death other than by natural causes.”
The pair have pleaded not guilty to suffocating acting judge Patrick Maqubela with cling-wrap in his Sea Point, Cape Town, apartment on Friday June 5, 2009.
She has also denied guilt on fraud and forgery charges related to a document she claims is her husband’s will.
Murphy said that two medical experts had concluded that neither a natural nor unnatural cause of death could be excluded.
“Ultimately then, the cause of death cannot be determined by medical evidence alone. The ultimate inference of an unlawful killing… may be based on a number of facts which are not themselves established beyond reasonable doubt.”
He dismissed the proposition that a sex worker could have been responsible for his death, based on a fax sent to Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe six months after Maqubela’s death. The fax claimed to be from his call girl, who said she had access to his home and knew all about his death.
It was sent from an internet cafe in Pretoria on November 6, 2009.
Cellphone mapping showed Thandi Maqubela drove from Johannesburg to Pretoria, and back, that afternoon and triggered a base station in the area.
Murphy said when Thandi Maqubela was asked in court whether she was the author of the fax, she gave an “incoherent ramble” about being chased by helicopters and secret agents.
When pushed, she said she was “not the type of person who used inferior methods of doing things”. She eventually conceded though that if the cellphone records were correct, she must have been in the area.
Murphy said the fax was in line with Maqubela’s behaviour of showing a dossier of her husband’s damning sexual conduct to his friends, and other “multiple fabrications”. She thus was probably the author.
Without an innocent explanation from her, he had to accept the State’s submission that she sent the fax in a misguided attempt to distance herself from her husband’s death.