Maqubela was a down-to-earth man

NATIONAL Heritage Council chief executive officer Sonwabile Mancotywa yesterday paid tribute to the the late Judge Patrick Ntobeko Maqubela.

NATIONAL Heritage Council chief executive officer Sonwabile Mancotywa yesterday paid tribute to the the late Judge Patrick Ntobeko Maqubela.

"Affectionately known as 'Bra Ntobs', Maqubela was a very warm, kind, down-to-earth person who was loving and accessible," he said.

"His loss is a blow to the NHC because he was a father figure to all the staff. He knew everybody by name, even the driver. We will really miss him.

"If indeed he was murdered, who would have done that? Where does that come from? Such a quiet and honest person," he said.

Asked if Maqubela had any health problems, Mancotywa said: "No, no, no. I don't know of such. He was not a sickly person. I never heard him complain of bleeding. He never missed meetings because he was sick."

Mancotywa said he had known Maqubela from political circles in Eastern Cape, "since our days as political activists".

In 1982 Maqubela was arrested and charged with treason and sabotage and faced execution. Two years later he was jailed for 20 years. He was released in 1990. Maqubela obtained a degree in history, an LLB and LLM while on Robben Island.

"His skill, knowledge and expertise were the reasons the then arts and culture minister Pallo Jordan appointed him NHC chairperson," said Mancotywa.

At the time of his death, Maqubela was working on a project with the NHC called the Liberation Route, which sought to identify specific historical sites of liberation icons such as Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, OR Tambo, Chris Hani, Sol Plaatje and many others. These sites would be preserved for future generations, tourists and students, Mancotywa added.

Former National Prosecuting Authority boss Bulelani Ngcuka, speaking on behalf of the family, said: "We met in 1978 when we were serving articles in Durban at Griffiths Mxenge's firm. We shared a house between 1979 and 1981 when we were arrested.

"He was a very humble and soft-spoken person. He was not easily angered or rattled. He had a great sense of humour," said Ngcuka.

Maqubela's son, Duma, 30, said the first 12 years of his life without his father were tough. However, he was proud of him because he knew why he was in prison.

Maqubela's former wife Ntswaki Nginza-Maqubela said she met the "hard- working and compassionate" acting judge in Port Elizabeth when she was in high school and he was a student at Fort Hare University. They got married in 1977 and had two sons, the late Mpho and Duma.

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