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Threats, a bizarre job offer: friend tells of Tshegofatso Pule’s last weeks alive

Court hears that the soon to be murdered woman felt abandoned by the father of her unborn child

24 January 2022 - 17:29
Tshegofatso Pule was eight months pregnant when she was found hanging from a tree. Her boyfriend, Ntuthuko Shoba is currently on trial for her murder.
SENSELESS Tshegofatso Pule was eight months pregnant when she was found hanging from a tree. Her boyfriend, Ntuthuko Shoba is currently on trial for her murder.
Image: Supplied

Threatening messages, feelings of abandonment and a dodgy job offer are some of the things that slain Tshegofatso Pule went through before her death, the high court in Johannesburg heard on Monday.

Taking to the stand clad in a large sun hat, dark glasses and a mask in a bid to conceal her identity from the press, Pule’s friend Tshepiso Tsita agreed to take off her disguise after the court assured her that her face would not be published by the media .

She was testifying in the trial of Ntuthuko Shoba — Pule’s alleged boyfriend-  who is accused of murdering or conspiring to kill her. Pule was heavily pregnant at the time of her murder.

Tsita told the court that, as far as she was aware, Shoba first dated her cousin but later learnt that he was dating Pule.

Tshegofatso started getting threatening messages from a woman, threats that she [the woman] would come to her workplace. The threats were that she should leave [this woman’s] man alone.
Tshegofatso Pule’s friend Tshepiso Tsita

Tsita and Pule were childhood friends who lived within walking distance of each other. So close were the two that Pule would share the messages between herself and Shoba with Tsita, and Shoba would also use Tsita’s number to send Pule cash.

Tsita conceded that Pule was financially dependent on Shoba after resigning from her job as a makeup artist several months earlier.

Tsita recalled how, among other things, Pule shared with her some disturbing messages she received.

“Tshegofatso started getting threatening messages from a woman; threats that she [the woman] would come to her workplace. The threats were that she should leave [this woman’s] man alone. She said she would come to her workplace and deal with her. She said she is HIV positive and that Tshegofatso must go get tested.

“Tshegofatso then blocked the number,” Tsita said.

Tsita said that on May 29 2020 — a week before Pule’s death — in the middle of SA’s hard Covid-19 lockdown, Pule got a strange offer for a makeup job. The job was to allow the heavily pregnant mother to work from home.

She said that a woman — named either Zanele or Zandile — sent a message asking for an interview for around 11am or midday at the McDonald’s in Ormonde.

“She was to be there for two hours,” said Tsita. “Tshego didn’t go. I said to her that its strange that an interview is being held at McDonald’s during lockdown. No sit-ins were allowed.”

On the day of the proposed interview, the person again texted Pule, saying she was running late.

The person said Pule should instead wait opposite the McDonald’s where a Jeep would be waiting for her and the driver was already there, Tsita testified.

Pule did not go, she reiterated.

The court was also alerted to other messages in which Pule had, on one occasion, inquired whether she would see Shoba on that day. Shoba, who now stands accused of murdering Pule, apparently replied by saying he could not as he was still at Rosetta’s.

“Rosetta was Shoba’s other girlfriend,” Tsita said. “Tshego wasn’t happy. She felt she wasn’t getting enough time from Shoba.”

The court also heard of text messages Pule had sent to Shoba in March saying she was now six months pregnant and her family needed see his family to alert them of her condition.

Tsita said Shoba replied with: “Yeah, I will engage my parents soon.”

This never happened because Shoba had made excuses on two occasions. The first was that there was a funeral in his family and the second was that, according to him, his father wanted a DNA test for the baby.

Tsita said she saw Pule on June 4 2020. Pule was found dead in Durban Deep the next day. She had suffered a wound to the chest and her bloodied body was found hoisted to a tree. Her baby did not survive.

Tsita told the court Shoba did not come and pay his respects and neither did he bother to attend her funeral. She never knew why.

Cross-examining Tsita, Shoba’s legal representative Norman Makhubele said his client’s version was that he did not attend the funeral after rumours and insinuations were made that he was behind the killing. He also alleged that he had received a phone call from Pule’s aunt, Grace, asking whether he got what he finally wanted. A male relative of Pule’s allegedly called him as well, accusing him of killing her.

Tsita said she could not comment on these allegations.

Under cross-examination, Tsita said Pule had also confronted Shoba about the threats against her and he expressed “shock and asked for that number”.

According to Makhubele, it was Shoba’s version that the relationship between himself and Pule was over but the two continued to have ties because of the unborn baby.

He claimed he continued to support her, paying for her clinic visits and medication. The pair also bought baby clothes together just a few weeks before Pule’s death.

Tsita said she was aware that he paid for some things but admitted that there were “hiccups”.

She has completed her testimony and a new state witness is expected to be called to the stand on Tuesday.


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