Alleged murder mastermind’s appeal for bail is denied for a third time
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JOHANNESBURG: The third bail bid of Ntuthuko Shoba, the Johannesburg man accused of masterminding his pregnant girlfriend's brutal murder, has failed.
Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi dismissed Shoba's appeal against the earlier decisions by the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court to deny him bail.
This lower court ruled against Shoba's two bail applications in May. He was arrested late in April and slapped with charges that included murder, after Soweto man Muzikayise Malephane's confession that Shoba paid him R70 000 to murder his eight-month pregnant girlfriend Tshegofatso Pule.
Malephane was jailed for 20 years, following a plea bargain with the State. The plea bargain saved him from being handed a life imprisonment sentence for the gruesome murder. He hanged Pule.
Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi delivered her ruling against Shoba's bail, at the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
She found in favour of the State's argument that there were no compelling and exceptional reasons to release Shoba on bail, contrary to the accused’s lawyer's submissions that he deserved bail.
Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi heard Shoba's third bail bid last week. In this hearing, advocate Zweli Zakwe, for Shoba, argued that there were various factors that justified Shoba's release on bail.
The “inconclusivity” of the State's case against Shoba was one of such factors, said Zakwe.
“For trial purposes, it's not conclusive.
“There is a prima facie case which I concede,” he said last week.
“But I am submitting that the State's case, in my opinion, appears to be circumstantial.
“There is no direct evidence linking the appellant to any of the crimes, particularly the main one of murder.
“The State is relying upon the evidence of Mr Malephane, who is a self-confessed murderer, in the context of this matter, who implicated the appellant in this crime,” said Zakwe.
Further, said Zakwe, Shoba's exceptional circumstances
These included the fact that Shoba had ties to Joburg, he was gainfully employed and “earned a handsome salary of about R36 000”, and had assets that included a bonded house.
Shoba was also prepared to hand over his passport, the advocate said.
Opposing bail, the State submitted that the handing over of the passport did not mean Shoba was not a flight risk.
“It's a non-factor. That, per se, on its own will not guarantee that he'll stand trial,” prosecutor Faghre Mohamed told the court last week.
Mohamed said Shoba's age and the possibility of a life imprisonment term were incentives for him to flee.
Being 33, he faced the possibility of returning to society when of pension age, said Mohamed.
“That fact is not emphasised by Mr Zakwe,” said Mohamed.
Shoba's trial will begin next month.