Family, friends commemorate Tshegofatso Pule as Friday marks a year since her murder

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Friends and relatives of slain Tshegofatso Pule hold balloons at her funeral. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
Friends and relatives of slain Tshegofatso Pule hold balloons at her funeral. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
  • Tshegofatso Pule's family have embarked on an emotional journey in remembrance of her last days on earth.
  • The alleged mastermind behind her death, Ntuthuko Shoba, is expected to stand trial in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in October.
  • Shoba allegedly promised Pule's confessed murderer Muzikayise Malephane R70 000 in return for killing her.

Friday marks a year since Tshegofatso Pule was seen alive by her family.

In remembrance of the slain Soweto woman, her family is planning to hold a private ceremony where they will lay wreaths on Saturday at the foot of the tree where she was found hanging.

On Sunday, a public motorcade will make its way from her home in Meadowlands, Soweto, to Roodepoort Durban Deep where she was killed.

On 4 June 2020, Pule visited her now incarcerated boyfriend and father of her unborn child, Ntuthuko Shoba.

Family, friends and NGOs had repeatedly told the media on separate occasions that they were patiently waiting for Shoba to have his day in court.

The former JSE analyst was expected to stand trial in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg from 4 October.

Shoba, 32, has denied playing a part in the killing of Pule, 28, who was eight months pregnant with his child.

Pule, a beautician by profession, left her family home in Meadowlands, Soweto, to visit Shoba at his residence in Florida on 4 June.

She was captured on CCTV cameras walking with Shoba before she jumped into a Jeep SUV driven by Muzikayise Malephane, 31.

The vehicle was later confiscated by police as it was used during a criminal offence.

READ | Tshegofatso Pule: Trial of alleged mastermind Ntuthuko Shoba set to begin in October

The following day, a passerby found Pule's scantily dressed body with a stab wound to the chest, hanging from a tree in Roodepoort Durban Deep.

A video showing her body hanging later went viral on social media.

Her family positively identified Pule on 8 June at a government mortuary after she was reported missing, a day after she failed to return home.

Malephane made his first appearance in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court in February.

He then abandoned his bail application, and the matter was transferred to the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. 

Malephane later entered into a guilty plea with the State, saying he would turn State witness against Shoba.

In his plea, Malephane claimed that he would testify against Shoba.

On 19 February, after accepting his guilty plea, Judge Ratha Mokgoathleng sentenced Malephane to 20 years for murder, five years for defeating the ends of justice and five years for possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition.

In handing down the sentence, Mokgoatlheng said he deviated from the prescribed minimum sentence of life in prison after Malephane reached a deal with the State to testify against Shoba.

Malephane, sweating profusely during sentencing, handed a letter of apology he had penned to Pule's family in court.

In his guilty plea, Malephane said he went to school with Shoba and claimed he offered him R70 000 to kill Pule.

He said Shoba rang him to fetch Pule from his residence and to pretend to be an Uber driver.

Malephane was also armed.

"He stopped the vehicle, opened Pule's door, grabbed her by her arm and pulled her out. He shot Pule once and fell. Malephane believed that Pule was dead and put her in the back seat of the Jeep and drove to Durban Deep," read part of his guilty plea in court.

Malephane claimed that he was not thinking straight after firing at Pule and decided to hang Pule to make it look like she had committed suicide.

He dragged her out of the vehicle, tied a rope around her neck and strung her from a tree. 

Shoba's antics

Shoba made his first appearance in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court where the case was postponed to 1 March.

He allegedly orchestrated Pule's murder because he didn't want his partner to find out that he had impregnated the beautician.

His attempts to secure bail were dismissed by magistrate Delize Smith.

Ntuthuko Shoba.
Gallo Images Photo: Trevor Kunene/Gallo Images/Daily Sun

Smith said there were no exceptional circumstances to grant Shoba bail despite his lawyer, advocate Luyanda Nyangiwe, arguing the contrary.

READ | Tshegofatso Pule: Alleged murder mastermind Ntuthuko Shoba denied bail

On 25 March, Shoba launched another bail application with "new facts".

He claimed that a fellow detainee known as John Thweky Mohabe, at the Krugersdorp Prison had told him that Malephane was dating Pule behind his back.

Shoba claimed that Pule had had multiple relationships behind his back.

He claimed that Malephane had also confessed to two other inmates that he had killed Pule after they argued in his Jeep.

"I could never imagine hiring someone I know to take a hit on the mother of my child," Shoba said.

He claimed that he financially assisted Pule during the pregnancy.

His claims were disputed in court by prosecutor Paseka Timeki.

Timeki laid bare cellphone records between Pule and Shoba.

In some of the messages, Pule, who appeared to be stranded at one point, needed Shoba to be there for her and the unborn child, but he gave them the cold shoulder.

Timeki even revealed that Shoba wanted Pule to terminate the pregnancy, including an allegation that he gave her medication that left her with excruciating stomach pains.

Also, Shoba had allegedly forced Pule to terminate a previous pregnancy.

Smith denied Shoba bail again on 7 May, because his two advocates presented no new facts. 

On 23 April, the JSE announced that it terminated Shoba's employment.

The company claimed that it had cooperated with the police investigation.

On 26 April, Shoba appeared in court with a new lawyer, advocate Shaddy Sithole, in an attempt to secure bail to attend to his employment matters.

The bail bid failed and Shoba's matter was transferred to the high court on 17 May.

He was served with an indictment and his trial was expected to begin on 28 May.

In another twist, Shoba brought another application on 18 May, saying that he should not be moved to Johannesburg Prison known as Sun City.

Sithole claimed that Shoba had received life-threatening voice notes, texts and video messages.

The messages were suspected to be from Malephane.

On 25 May, Sithole withdrew his services, leaving Shoba to cross-examine senior correctional officer Lesetja Masenya about his safety should he be incarcerated at the Johannesburg Prison.

Shoba's trial is expected to begin on 4 October.

* EDITOR'S NOTE | The headline and story has been updated to reflect the anniversary of Pule's death. 

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