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Guilty verdict for Ntuthuko Shoba in murder of Tshegofatso Pule

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
Ntuthuko Shoba has been convicted in the Johannesburg high court of Tshegofatso Pule's murder.
Ntuthuko Shoba has been convicted in the Johannesburg high court of Tshegofatso Pule's murder.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Ntuthuko Shoba has been found guilty of masterminding the killing of his heavily pregnant girlfriend Tshegofatso Pule in 2020.

Judge Stuart Wilson ruled in the high court in Johannesburg that Shoba was guilty of the premeditated murder of Pule relating to his role in orchestrating her killing.

Pule, from Meadowlands, Soweto, was found hanging from a tree in Roodepoort, Johannesburg, and her convicted killer Muzikayise Malephane testified during trial that he had been hired by Shoba to kill her for R70,000 as she refused to terminate her pregnancy.

Large crowds gathered outside the court precinct on Friday wearing T-shirts that called for justice for Pule and her unborn baby.

Wilson dismissed calls by the defence to reject the state’s case and disregard Malephane’s evidence because he had admitted to having initially falsified his evidence in order to place Shoba at the scene of the murder, including claiming that he had stabbed Pule.

“To reject the state’s case I would have to find that Malephane lied about virtually everything he had said. But he had been, nonetheless, fortuitously assisted in his lies by four extraordinary pieces of luck,” Wilson said.

He said while it was true that by the time Shoba’s lawyer Norman Makhubela’s cross-examination was concluded, Malephane’s evidence was “far from being untarnished”, it still contained unchallenged assertions that required an explanation from Shoba.

“There was an undisputed fact that there had been at least two meetings between Shoba and the man everyone accepts killed Pule.

"Secondly, there was Malephane’s unchallenged assertion that he had no prior relationship with Pule and that he in fact he did not know her and had no motive for or means of making contact with her other than with Shoba’s assistance and at his behest,” Wilson said.

Wilson said it was unchallenged that Malephane had picked Pule up from Shoba’s complex on the night that he killed her and that Shoba was present when he picked her up.

“These aspects of the evidence were enough in themselves to put Shoba on his defence. He would at the very least have to confirm that his contact with Malephane was intended to procure cigarettes and not to arrange Pule’s murder,” he said.

Wilson pointed out that the court accepted that Malephane was a discredited witness, an admitted liar who had an axe to grind against Shoba and that he was a single witness to most of the events he narrated during trial.

“Despite these obvious notes of caution, there was, for the reasons I have given, clear material in Malephane’s evidence on which a reasonable court acting carefully might convict Shoba. That is why I refused the discharge application. In any event, the state’s case did not begin and end with Malephane’s testimony,” Wilson said.

He said that prosecutor Faghre Mohammed had placed material evidence before him that corroborated Malephane’s evidence.

This included evidence of cellphone records that showed interactions between Shoba and Malephane when a fake interview was organised for Pule in the first unsuccessful bid to kidnap her as well as on the night of June 4 when Malephane picked Pule up at Shoba’s home before killing her.

While Shoba denied that the “081” number used to call Malephane belonged to him, the records showed that it had been placed at the same location as his other registered phone number.

Wilson said Shoba had known what was going to happen to Pule on the fateful night and that he had arranged the hit and her pickup by Malephane.

The matter has been postponed to May 10 for mitigation of sentence.

Wilson cleared Shoba on a charge of obstruction of justice.

“In my view, there is no basis on which I can convict Shoba on obstruction,” he said.

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