Tshegofatso Pule arranged her own lift in a huff: Ntuthuko Shoba to her cousin
Murder-accused Ntuthuko Shoba told the family of Tshegofatso Pule the last time he had seen her, she had left his place annoyed after he had continuously received calls from his girlfriend in her presence.
Shoba told Pule’s cousin Palesa Senokoane that Pule told him she was being picked up by someone from his home in Westlake, Florida, on the West Rand. He said he never heard from her again.
This version was delivered by Senokoane as she took the stand to deliver testimony in the second day of Shoba’s trial in the high court in Johannesburg.
He stands accused of either ordering or participating in the murder of the heavily pregnant Pule in June 2020. Her unborn baby girl, believed to be Shoba’s, also did not survive.
Senokoane told the court that on June 4 that year, the day the state believes Pule was murdered, she had spoken to her.
“She called me via WhatsApp. We were talking about the list of the child’s clothing that they needed to buy. When I spoke to her, Shoba was in the background. I had asked her where she was because it was late and she replied that she was at Shoba’s at Westlake, Florida. It was about 9pm. I asked her to call me once she gets home,” said Senokoane.
That was the last conversation they ever had.
On Friday June 5 2020, Senokoane said she called Pule’s phone but the call went unanswered. It was the same on the Saturday. “I called her but it was just ringing. The third time I tried it that day, it was switched off.”
During this time, Shoba had not come looking for Pule, she said.
“I called [Shoba] on Sunday morning. I asked him where Tshego is because the last time I heard from her, she was with him. He said he didn’t know but was becoming worried. I was in the car. I said I would call him again.
“I called him when I was home and asked him, ‘Tell me what happened because the last time, she was with you.’ He said she left. I said, ‘I hope you are not lying to me.’ I then went to the police station, where we opened a missing person’s case.”
She made a third phone call to Shoba after she arrived at the police station.
“He told me that Tshego felt defeated and had decided to leave because his girlfriend Rosetta was calling often. He offered to take Tshego home [but he said] she called someone else to come fetch her. This was on June 4,” said Senokoane.
Pule and Shoba had an on-and-off relationship, she said, adding she was of the view that the only solid thing between them was the unborn baby.
“She once showed me a WhatsApp message from Shoba. She had posted something on WhatsApp and Shoba was saying that she should delete the WhatsApp status she had posted. He said he did not like it and did not want people involved in his matters,” Senokoane said, without elaborating what the status note was.
“Tshego had come to show me the messages, feeling hurt. I said I was tired of how Shoba was treating her,” Senokoane said.
In cross-examination, Shoba’s lawyer Norman Makhubela pointed out that there was nothing untoward about Shoba not calling her to inquire about Pule’s whereabouts because they never did really communicate except for when he used her number to send Pule cash.
He said Shoba had tried numerous times to contact Pule, even texting her on that evening when she had allegedly left his house upset.
Makhubela presented evidence which showed that Shoba had texted Pule later that night, asking her to let him know once she had arrived at home and saying they should confirm their plans to meet the next day to purchase the baby items.
He sent another message the next day saying he had tried to call and she should get back to him.
“You were aware that Mr Shoba was not into this relationship in the way that Ms Pule expected, other than the child?” Makhubele said.
He said Shoba did not “mince his words about the fact that he was in a relationship with someone else”.
Senokoane replied that there were times when Shoba treated Pule well and there were times he did not treat her very well.
She conceded that Pule did not plan to sleep over at Shoba’s place on the night she died.
Senokoane also conceded that Shoba had offered to go to the police station as he too said he was worried about not hearing from Pule since she had left his house.
It is Shoba’s version that the last time he saw Pule was when she entered a Jeep, whose driver he did not know.
He was arrested in February after Pule’s murderer Muzikayise Malephane implicated him in a confession. Now serving a 20-year prison term, Malephane alleged he was hired to kill Pule because Shoba feared his “wife” would find out about her pregnancy.
The trial continues.
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