Tshegofatso Pule's family left frustrated by court delay

Family and friends attend the funeral service of Tshegofatso Pule in Meadowlands, Soweto.
Family and friends attend the funeral service of Tshegofatso Pule in Meadowlands, Soweto.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

The family of a Soweto woman who was found hanged from a tree after she had gone missing has been left frustrated by the criminal justice system after the man accused of her murder failed to appear in court.

Muzikayise Malephane, 31, stands accused of murdering Tshegofatso Pule, 28, who was eight months pregnant when her body was discovered hanging from a tree in Roodeport, west of Johannesburg. She was found stabbed on her chest.

Malephane was due to appear in the Roodepoort magistrates court on Thursday.

However, there was confusion in court when  he did not appear  and the matter was instead postponed to July 23.

His matter previously was pushed to Thursday after the Roodepoort magistrates court was due to be decontaminated when a staff member at the court tested positive for Covid-19.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the matter would be postponed to July 23 but could not elaborate why.

This left Pule family upset as they too were in court for Malephane’s appearance.

Poppy Mailona, who spoke on the family’s behalf said they were disappointed and frustrated by the developments in the matter.

“The senior prosecutor informed the family that the case has been postponed. What happened is that the magistrate is on leave and he has written the wrong date on the charge sheet. The family was told to come on July 9, but now on the charge it is written the July 23,” she said.

She said the system was failing them and that there was a lack of accountability and that the state’s failure to communicate with the family about the postponement left them with a bitter taste in their mouths.

“The family had to take leave, but nobody cares about that. We really need to look into the justice system in South Africa because cases like these are not taken seriously. Just communicating with the family should have taken place. Even the senior prosecutor was puzzled about the dates. We just want the system to take issues of gender based violence seriously,” she said.

Dozens of protestors were who were outside the court were left dazed by the developments.

Tshidi Madisakoane, a community leader said they were present to send a message to perpetrators of gender based violence.

“We want to make sure that those who commit gender based violence are held to book. This incident saddened and angered us because women and children are being butchered and killed. This postponement impacts us because it seems as though the criminal justice system does not seem to be taking these matters seriously,” she said.

According to a police statement seen by Sowetan he told investigators that he was promised R70,000 for the murder of the mother-to-be.

Sowetan has established that Muzikayise Malephane, 31, allegedly planned Pule's murder and had tried killing her a month ago but was unsuccessful.

Malephane was allegedly promised R70,000 to kill Pule by someone known to her.

The murder was planned by the two of them. Police are yet to make the arrest of the second suspect.

In the failed attempt on Pule's life last month, Malephane and the other party set up a false interview in Mondeor, Johannesburg, where Pule was supposed to be kidnapped and killed had she turned up. She did not.

The two then hatched another plan.

"On the day of her murder (June 4), both suspects arranged an Uber ride for the victim to be picked up and [taken] to a flat in Florida," the statement reads.

"Then both suspects started an argument with the victim, while driving and as a result the other party allegedly took out a sharp object and stabbed the victim several times.

"They then proceeded to [bushes in] Durban Deep, hanged her with a rope on the tree and left her helpless."

Malephane allegedly confessed to police and also pointed out the crime scene. He appeared in the Roodepoort magistrate's court yesterday.

The body of Pule, 28, was found with stab wounds and hanging from a tree in a veld in Durban Deep, Roodepoort, the next day (June 5).

Malephane was arrested while returning from Mpumalanga on Monday - more than a week after Pule's killing which sparked renewed protests against gender-based violence. The court gallery was mostly packed with journalists and Pule's family who wanted to see the man in the dock.

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