- Nthuthuko Shoba, the mastermind behind the murder of Tshegofatso Pule, has been found guilty of premeditated murder.
- Pule's family says the judgment confirmed their suspicions about Shoba - that he was, in fact, behind her murder.
- Sentencing proceedings will begin in May.
The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg was a hive of activity on Friday shortly after Ntuthuko Shoba was found guilty of the murder of Tshegofatso Pule, nearly two years after her pregnant body was found hanging from a tree in Durban Deep, Roodepoort.
Acting Judge Stuart Wilson found Shoba guilty of the premeditated murder of Pule. He, however, acquitted him on the charge of defeating the ends of justice.
"The facts that have been proved all point in one direction: that Mr Shoba arranged for [Muzikayise] Malephane to kill Ms Pule; that he first attempted to do so by having Mr Malephane meet Ms Pule at the Ormonde McDonald's outlet; and that, when that plan failed, he knowingly and intentionally delivered Ms Pule into Mr Malephane's hands on the night of 4 June 2020," Wilson stated during the judgment on Friday.
The public gallery, filled with Pule's family members and activists, broke down in tears following the conviction.
Speaking to the media shortly after the judgment, Pule family spokesperson, Tumisang Katake, said the verdict confirmed the family's suspicions.
"The fact is this, Tshego is no more, even if he gets a life sentence, his family will still have an opportunity to go and talk to him, they will still have a chance to ask how he feels - we do not have that chance with Tshego.
"If we have to speak to Tshegofatso, we have to visit the grave to speak to her. This is something that we as the family have to live with for the rest of our lives," Katake said.
No way forward with the Shoba family
Katake further stated that the family saw no way forward with the Shoba family, adding that they would not be surprised if Shoba appealed the judgment.
"If they were genuine in this thing of saying to us they are sorry, they would have today approached us and said 'we are very sorry for your loss'. That didn't happen.
"... With the stunts that Shoba has pulled throughout this trial, I would not be surprised if he appeals," Katake said.
Advocate Faghre Mohammed, who was behind the conviction of Palesa Madiba's killer, also successfully prosecuted this case.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) welcomed the verdict and commended the team behind the successful prosecution.
"We applaud the sterling work by the team in the strategy that they used, in this case, to finally get a conviction after Malephane pleaded guilty and implicated Shoba. We will be arguing for a life sentence since he is guilty of premeditated murder.
NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane told the media:
The matter returns to court on 10 May for sentencing proceedings.
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