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Twist in murder case

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The trial was postponed to March for the cellphone records to be released.

Thabang Leonard Maqhobai. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE MURDER trial of 36-year-old Thabang Leonard Maqhobai took a dramatic turn in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday when closing arguments were halted in order for cellphone records to be revisited.

The court was expected to hear closing arguments between the defence and the state on Thursday with a possible judgement on Friday.

However, the trial was postponed to March for the cellphone records to be released.

Moqhobai is facing a charge of murder after allegedly stabbing Elsie ‘Mase’ Chabalala seven times with knife on Sunday, October 13, 2019.

The couple met in 2010 and had broken up and reunited several times before the incident.

It was revealed in court that they were recovering from their latest breakup three to four weeks before the fateful day.

Moqhobai and Cecil Klaase, who is a state witness, underwent cross examination on Tuesday, during which the state prosecutor, Anel Stellenberg, questioned who lied under oath.

Klaase, who is originally from Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, was in Richie to work on a construction project and was also seeing Chabalala at the time.

Moqhobai told the court that he only remembers wrestling with his girlfriend and cannot remember stabbing her.

Chabalala apparently tried to stop him from going back to her yard to confront Klaase, whom she had left waiting for her under the veranda at her home.

Moqhobai apologised to the family of the deceased, his family and the Richie community following the incident.

He told the court that he did not intend to kill anyone with the knife but was angry at Klaase, whom the deceased had chosen over him during a family meeting.

Moqhobai kept on requesting the release of the cellphone records of the day of the murder, insisting that he called Klaase three times.

He said that they had met before he invited Klaase to the family meeting with the deceased.

Klaase denied the claims and said he never saw the accused before the meeting, and that he had never received a call from him either.

Klaase told the court that he was called by the deceased to rush to her home, and not by Moqhobai.

He further denied that he was close to the crime scene when the stabbing happened. Klaase told the court that he was at his home when his colleague told him that Chabalala had been stabbed to death.

He also told the court that he had a setback and did not got to the scene on the day of the murder, or to Chabalala’s home.

He indicated that he has never recovered from the ordeal, and has never been able to get another partner.

Moqhobai insisted on the relevance of the cellphone records in the case. He could not explain why Klaase would lie that they had never met and that he had called him with the cellphone of the deceased before the meeting.

He told the court that he saw Klaaste’s contact number while going through the cellphone of the deceased, which he took from her home on the day of the incident.

He had been searching for Chabalala since Saturday, the day before the murder and could not find her.

“I met Klaase on Sunday morning, where we met and agreed that he would back off and allow us space to continue with our wedding plans.

“After our meeting I went to the tavern where I bought a beer and sat down to drink it. Two of Chabalala’s grandchildren came to summon me to the house.

“I called Klaase for the second time on that day to invite him to the meeting and he promised to join in. Upon arriving at the home I asked the family to delay the meeting as I wanted someone else to join us.

“I stepped outside to call Klaase again and he told me he was on his way. He arrived within minutes to join the meeting,” said Moqhobai.