The trial of Ntuthuko Shoba, accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend Tshegofatso Pule, was on Monday set to start in the high court in Johannesburg with the first witness, prison inmate Muzikayise Malephane.
Malephane was handed a 20-year jail term after he confessed that Shoba had allegedly paid him R70,000 to murder Pule in a bid to hide his affair and the pregnancy from his wife.
Now a state witness, Malephane was also found guilty of obstructing justice and being in possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. For this, he was handed a five-year sentence which will run concurrently with the 20-year term.
Pule, a 28-year-old Johannesburg-based beauty products representative, was eight months pregnant when she was killed in June 2020. Police said at the time she had been found with a wound in her chest. Her bloodstained body was discovered hanging from a tree in the Durban Deep area of Roodepoort four days after she had last been seen. Her unborn child was a girl.
Pule’s family packed the court on Monday for the start of their long-awaited quest for justice.
The family wore white T-shirts with the words "RIP Patrick Shai" in commemoration of the actor who died at the weekend. Shai, who supported the family and attended previous court proceedings, died at the weekend.
Dressed in a blue suit with a diary in his hand, Shoba took his seat in the courtroom before his appearance, seemingly unfazed by the media contingent.
He turned around and gave a wink and thumbs up to a person seated in the court gallery.
Proceedings are set to start soon.