Manhunt launched for man suspected of killing Tshegofatso Pule: Bheki Cele

Police minister Bheki Cele said the police know who the suspect is in the murder of Tshegofatso Pule. File photo.
Police minister Bheki Cele said the police know who the suspect is in the murder of Tshegofatso Pule. File photo.
Image: GCIS

The police have launched a manhunt for a man who is suspected of killing Tshegofatso Pule and dumping her body under a tree in Johannesburg, police minister Bheki Cele has said.

Addressing the media at a roadblock on the Leratong Road in Protea Glen, Soweto, Cele said the police know who the suspect is and it is only a matter of time before he is arrested.

Cele was in Soweto to monitor if residents are complying with regulations under lockdown level 3.

“With Ms Pule, we know who we are wanting now. We have the name and the surname and it may be very soon that this person will be picked up,” said Cele.

The police minister said since the easing of the lockdown from level 4 to level 3 on June 1, the police have noticed an increase in gender-based violence. “Gender-based violence is on the upsurge at the moment. We just don’t know what is happening. We have seen an upsurge in gender-based violence, which has become very violent.”

Cele also said there has been an increase in murder, attempted murder and abuse, since level 3 was introduced.

“These acts of violence tend to be accompanied by alcohol abuse. Society should probe the link between alcohol, drugs and gender-based violence. Let us come together and fight it together,” he said.

“In the Western Cape one lady, Naledi [Phangindawo], died. I'm told that the ex-boyfriend has surrendered himself. There are two other people who were killed, a 27-year-old lady that was shot. We are working on that. There is another one in Khayelitsha where the case has been withdrawn. But that case has been handed over to the provincial commissioner to work on because there was an allegation that the police didn’t do a proper investigation,” he said.  

Gender violence is a societal problem and not just an issue for law enforcement agencies, he said. “If you look at the young girls who recently died, they were collected from homes, they were collected from friends or people that are known. For the police and the justice cluster, we should arrest, investigate properly, the prosecution should do its work and they should be thrown in prison for a very long time.”

Cele said it should be almost impossible for people charged with gender-based violence to get bail.   

Gauteng provincial commissioner Elias Mawela, who had accompanied Cele, said another suspect had been arrested in connection with the murder of another woman whose body was found in the veld in Dobsonville.

“With regards to the body in Dobsonville, one suspect is already behind bars, thanks to the community sharing the information with us.  He will appear in court on Monday.”

On Pule, he said the police were working around the clock following leads.

“With the assistance of our communities, we have been able to identify the  person that was with her. This is the person that we are looking for. Our detectives are hard at work, following leads. As soon as we find him we are going to pick him up and we know who the person is.” 

Cele said he was in the area to monitor the community's compliance with lockdown regulations. “ Today in Gauteng we have seven roadblocks around Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and here in Soweto. Not only compliance, you know that our core work is to deal with criminal issues, to deal with crime like breaking regulations on alcohol, transport overloading and not wearing your mask.” 

The police, he said, were also making sure that people who were on the streets had reason to be outside.

“People should stay home. Covid-19 is still with us, the numbers are still increasing, deaths are still increasing. The minister of health will give us those figures, but we as the South African police are on the front line and we still suffer. At the moment we have 1,685 members who have been infected by the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the largest chunk of them are in the Western Cape, at 1,034. Here in Gauteng we have 119, Eastern Cape 186, and in KwaZulu-Natal we have 53, with 14 deaths altogether.”

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