Pule murder: Detective who never lost heart opens up

Captain Bongani Mpete, the man who cracked the callous murder of Tshegofatso Pule, represents excellence and dedication often not associated with the men and women in blue.

The work of Mpete and his team of investigators led to the successful prosecution of the two men behind a crime that shocked South Africa and raised the plight of women and children in this country.

Pule’s boyfriend, Ntuthuko Shoba, was on Friday found guilty of her and their unborn child’s premeditated murder .

Pule, then aged 28, was found hanging from a tree in Durban Deep near Roodepoort in May 2020.

Shoba, who now faces a steep sentence, was found guilty of ordering the hit on Pule and of commissioning his acquaintance, Muzikayise Malephane, to carry out the evil act.

Malephane, who confessed to the crime and testified against Shoba, is serving a 20-year sentence.

Mpete, who is the commanding officer of detectives responsible for investigating murder cases at the Roodepoort police station, said he had to put long hours into the investigation.

He remembers vividly the day he came across Pule’s case. He said he was busy allocating cases to his team when he came across the docket of Pule’s murder and something compelled him to investigate the case himself. “I put a team of three other officers to work with me on the case, but I later decided to do it on my own as there were many things that were happening and the media was reporting about the matter, with some reports not being factual,” said Mpete.

He said he realised the case could be jeopardised and he was also concerned that some of the information could be leaked during the investigation, so he decided to work alone.

“What was complex about this case was that there were no witnesses, but based on my expertise I pieced all the information together. I was going everywhere with the docket as I didn’t want it to let it out of my sight based on how important this matter was to me,” he said.

Mpete said he felt a sense of duty to the Pule family, her friends and the country to solve the case and bring the perpetrators to book. “After we arrested Muzikayise Malephane, who admitted to killing Pule after being contracted by Shoba, I started dealing with the merits of the case. Malephane gave us Shoba’s nickname, Pikachu, and when I compared cellphone records on Malephane’s cellphone, I connected the dots.

“This was quite a challenging case, which drained me emotionally, but I had to make sure that I left no stone unturned. I care about the safety of women and children and as you know, this country has a bad record of gender-based violence. I took it upon myself to get to the bottom of this case,” he said.

He referred to Shoba as one of the most “cunning” people he has ever come across. “Shoba is sly and cunning and he was not showing any emotions when I was questioning him. I was dealing with the person who would try all he could to manipulate and use any situation to suit him. He would come up with many stories to get off scott free, but I was not easily moved by his antics.”

Mpete has been in the police service for 24 years. He is the father of two and comes from a family of public servants. His late mother was a nurse, while his uncle was station commander at Kagiso station.

“I was encouraged by my uncle to join the police force. Initially I wanted to be a lawyer, however, after joining the police, I learned tools of the trade and the passion of solving cases kicked in. With this case I had to be discreet and not share any information with anyone other than my commander and advocate Fagri Mohammed, who has been a great prosecutor on this case,” he said.

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