Alleged cop assault, R8m trust fund: new shocks in Pule murder trial

Convicted killer reveals new information, but insists he informed the investigating officer about it earlier

26 January 2022 - 18:44
By Naledi Shange
Tshegofatso Pule’s killer, Muzikayise Malephane, prepares to leave court after giving testimony on Wednesday. It is alleged he was hired to kill Pule by her boyfriend, Ntuthuko Shoba, last year.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times Tshegofatso Pule’s killer, Muzikayise Malephane, prepares to leave court after giving testimony on Wednesday. It is alleged he was hired to kill Pule by her boyfriend, Ntuthuko Shoba, last year.

The self-confessed killer of the pregnant Tshegofatso Pule on Wednesday provided new — and also contradicting — evidence while on the stand at  the high court in Johannesburg. 

Muzikayise Malephane was testifying in the trial against Ntuthuko Shoba, whom he alleges had hired him to kill his pregnant on-again-off-again girlfriend, Pule.

Pule was found with a gunshot wound to the chest and her lifeless body was then hung from a tree in Durban Deep in June 2020. 

Shoba has denied any involvement in the murder. 

Malephane, who is serving a 20-year sentence for Pule’s killing, faced a tough cross-examination from Shoba’s lawyer, Norman Makhubela, on the second day of his testimony.

Malephane testified that the first confession statement he gave the police after his arrest, days after the murder, was a mixture of truth and lies. He added that after his arrest, his main concern was ensuring he placed Shoba at the murder scene.

This was revenge for Shoba volunteering CCTV footage from his complex to the police to distance himself from Pule’s murder.

The CCTV footage had shown Pule leaving the complex and getting into Malephane’s silver-grey Jeep. She had believed the vehicle was an Uber and didn’t know that Malephane had allegedly been hired to kill her. 

In a second statement — delivered during his plea bargain — Malephane admitted Shoba was not present when Pule was shot dead.

Malephane said: “When I disposed of [the first] statement, I was still traumatised and, though I did not mention this before in court, I had been assaulted by the police. I was not in the right state of mind.”

Before this, the court had never heard of the alleged assault. Malephane had signed off on the statement, saying he had not been coerced into giving it.

Malephane had earlier taken the court into his confidence, explaining how weeks before he shot Pule dead, Shoba had suddenly given him a call and asked to meet, saying he needed his help. It was while they were on a routine bread and milk run to the shop that Shoba had told Malephane what he needed assistance with. 

“He said he had been at the Roodepoort taxi rank and the people at the taxi rank don’t want to assist him. That is why he thought of me. He said there’s a ‘flop’ (slang for ‘mistake’),” he said.

“The flop was that he had impregnated Ms Pule, and she was refusing to terminate. I asked him why he doesn’t convince her since she was his girlfriend, but he said he had been speaking to her and she was refusing,” Malephane told the court.

He took a long pause and fidgeted with his pen before he continued. 

“[Shoba] said if Ms Pule gives birth to that child, she is going to a ruin a lot of things with his wife. First, he was going to lose the wife and the money. I don’t know if this was money coming from her or if they put it together. I asked him how much was it that led him to do something like that,” said Malephane. 

But later in his testimony, Malephane gave more details about where this money Shoba was afraid of losing came from.

“The time we met and spoke about Ms Pule, he told me there was about R8m that he and his wife had received from a trust fund. That is why I trusted that he would pay me [the R70,000 they had agreed on for Pule’s murder],” said Malephane, explaining that the money for the hit would have come from the trust fund.

Makhubela, acting for Shoba, told the court it was the first time Malephane had mentioned the amount and the trust fund proceeds, but the convicted killer insisted he had informed the investigating officer about it.

“I think the police officer also knows. I may have not mentioned the amount, but I did say that [Shoba] wanted Ms Pule dead because he would lose the money and his wife should she find out he has a baby,” he added. 

Malephane did not receive a cent of that R70,000 from Shoba and had on Wednesday told the court he had not pressured Shoba for the cash. 

According to Malephane, who claimed to be in the business of buying and selling cars, the reason he did not immediately demand the money from Shoba was that he had just completed other jobs that had given him “much more than that R70,000”. 

After he had murdered Pule, he communicated with Shoba the next day, confirming to him the job was done.

He said Shoba was only concerned about the whereabouts of Pule’s cellphone, but Malephane said he had no idea where it was. He said the phone could have been lost in Noordgesig, where he had shot her, or at Durban Deep where he disposed of her body.

Malephane said the two of them had coincidentally bumped into each other at the Cash Build in Meadowlands the after Saturday — two days after Pule’s murder. 

Malephane said he had been there with a builder who was working at his girlfriend’s house in Goudrand, Roodepoort, while Shoba was buying building material to erect a car wash business in Zondi, Soweto.

“He called me to the side because he did not want his friends to hear what we were talking about. He said he was preparing money and would pay me,” said Malephane. 

“I was waiting for everything to calm down, for the Pule family to bury the deceased as well, because I was not sure whether Shoba was also involved in the funeral preparations. I was then going to ask him for my money,” said Malephane. 

But Makhubela stressed that Shoba would deny that this was how things unfolded. 

It was Shoba’s version that they did bump into each other at Cash Build, but there was no discussion. 

Shoba’s version was that he walked past Malephane at the door while he was being refused entry because he was not wearing a mask. His builder had been let in but was short of money while at the till. Shoba claimed to have given him R20 to help pay for his purchases. 

The case is set to continue on Thursday.