Ntuthuko Shoba’s lawyer doubts strength of Pule murder case allegations
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Johannesburg – A lawyer for Ntuthuko Shoba, the Johannesburg man accused of masterminding his pregnant girlfriend’s murder, has sought to cast doubt on the strength of the State’s case against his client.
Advocate Zweli Zakwe told the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg yesterday that the State’s case against Shoba was doubtful by virtue of it being based on the plea bargain confession by a self-confessed murderer, Muzikayise Malephane.
Zakwe effectively gave a glimpse into Shoba’s trial defence strategy. He will poke holes into the police failure to independently gather evidence linking him to Tshegofatso Pule’s killing, his 28-year-old pregnant girlfriend.
Shoba was arrested and charged after Malephane entered into a plea bargain with prosecutors.
The move saved Malephane from a life sentence. He was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
As part of the plea bargain, Malephane revealed that Shoba paid him R70 000 to kill Pule. He said Shoba wanted Pule dead because he did not want his partner to find out about her pregnancy.
Pule was eight months’ pregnant when Malephane killed her. Her lifeless body was found hanging from a tree in Roodepoort.
Zakwe brought Shoba’s application to set aside the March decision of the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court to deny bail.
Zakwe told Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi that there were various factors that justified Shoba's release on bail. The inconclusivity of the State’s evidence was one, said Zakwe.
“For trial purposes, it’s not conclusive. The State is relying upon the evidence of Mr Malephane, who is a self-confessed murderer in the context of this matter (and) who implicated the appellant to this crime,” he said.
Zakwe implied that Malephane entered the plea bargain to save his skin because the State had a strong case against him. He said the decision to deny Shoba, a fired JSE analyst, bail was a misdirection.
Shoba submitted all the necessary evidence to show he would not abscond from trial, Zakwe insisted.
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.
“It’s a non-factor. That per se on its own will not guarantee that he’ll stand trial,” prosecutor Faghre Mohamed said.
Mohamed said Shoba’s age and the possibility of a life imprisonment were incentives for him to flee. Being 33, he faced the possibility of returning to society at a pensionable age.
Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi reserved judgment.