Johannesburg High Court judge Stuart Wilson on Tuesday reserved judgment in the murder trial of Ntuthuko Shoba, the alleged mastermind behind the murder of Tshegofatso Pule.
Shoba faces one count of murder and defeating the ends of justice after Pule was shot in Noordgesig, Soweto and later found hanging from a tree in Durban Deep, Roodepoort. Muzikayise Malephane was convicted of her murder in February 2021 and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
Earlier in the day, both the state and defence teams had wrapped up their closing arguments and the state sought to convince the court why Shoba deserves a hefty sentence for his role in the gruesome murder, telling Wilson that there is a direct link Shoba could have orchestrated the hit.
But Wilson maintained that there was no substantial evidence that Shoba plotted the hit.
To prove the its case, the state brought exhibits of cellphone records to show that Shoba had constant contact with the convicted murderer Malephane on June 4 2020, the day Pule was killed.
In his cross-examination last week, Shoba had denied the phone used to contact Malephane belonged to him.
State prosecutor Fagre Mohammed further told the court that there was evidence showing Shoba and Malephane had reached an agreement to kill Pule and hang her body to make the murder appear like suicide.
Mohammed said the cellphone records show that Malephane was offered R70 000 by Shoba, adding that the cellphone number used to call Malephane was later disconnected on the night of the murder.
The state further explained that Malephane was indeed the driver of the silver-grey Jeep that supposedly fetched Pule earlier that day, and that Shoba knew it was Malephane behind the wheel.
Shoba told the court last week that he did not know the driver of the e-hailing service that had driven the deceased to his place. He also denied calling Malephane that night.
But the state insisted that the cellphone number in question had called Malephane at 10.04pm and the call lasted three minutes.
“This clearly indicates, my Lord, that Shoba had called Malephane to tell him that Pule is all ready. And after the car had left, the number was then disconnected,” said Mohammed.
In his final arguments, Mohammed said Shoba lied under oath about his relationship with Malephane, and that the court should review the exhibits presented with full consideration.
Defence lawyer Norman Makhubela argued that there is no substantial evidence from previous witnesses who testified that Shoba conspired to kill Pule, who was heavily pregnant with his child at the time.
Makhubela also lashed out at Malephane, calling him obsessed with Shoba, and arguing that his versions were far-fetched.
“My Lord, there’s no evidence that has been presented to this court that the [disputed] number belonged to my client. There’s no link that shows Shoba’s name was registered on it,” Makhubela told the court.
“Furthermore, the state suggests that the disputed number stopped being active after June 4, but the phone records show it was still active right up to June 17.”
But Wilson intervened, clarifying that the state only indicated that the disputed number stopped accepting calls, not that it was discontinued.
Makhubela closed his arguments by stating that Malephane’s evidence is biased and he did not want to go down alone for the crime he committed.
Wilson told both teams that the court will study the case thoroughly and hand over the judgment soonest. Shoba remains in police custody.
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