Pregnant girlfriend murder accused’s third bail attempt denied
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Johannesburg – The writing is now clear on prison walls for murder-accused Ntuthuko Shoba that he will remain in jail throughout what could be his long-winded trial.
Shoba, 33, is the former JSE analyst facing the rap for allegedly masterminding the murder of Tshegofatso Pule, his pregnant girlfriend last year. The 28-year-old was found hanging by a tree in a secluded area in Roodepoort.
Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi ruled against Shoba’s third bail bid at the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, yesterday.
He had sought to appeal an earlier ruling by the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court to deny him bail. This lower court ruled against Shoba's two bail applications in May.
Shoba was arrested in February and slapped with charges that included murder after Muzikayise Malephane, a man initially nabbed for Pule’s killing, entered into a plea bargain with the State.
As part of the plea bargain, 31-year-old Malephane confessed that he killed Pule after Shoba paid him R70 000 to do the job.
He reportedly said Shoba did not want his wife to find out about Pule’s pregnancy.
Due to the plea bargain, Malephane was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. His confession effectively saved him from being handed a life imprisonment sentence.
He would have been eligible for parole after serving 25 years had he been sentenced to a life term. Malephane will now be eligible for parole after serving 10 years.
Shoba approached the High Court in Johannesburg to argue that the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court misdirected itself in finding that he presented no exceptional and compelling reasons to justify bail.
Advocate Zweli Zakwe, his lawyer, told Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi last week that Shoba was denied bail despite submitting all the necessary evidence to prove he would not abscond from trial.
These, according to Zakwe, 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, Zakwe submitted. “We submit that the factors presented to court at the original bail application cumulatively constituted exceptional circumstances.”
The State opposed the appeal application. Prosecutor Faghre Mohamed told Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi that the Magistrate’s Court was correct to find that Shoba did not present any compelling and exceptional reasons to justify release on bail.
Yesterday, Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi found in favour of Mohamed’s argument.
She said: “I’m not convinced that the (Magistrate’s) Court erred in exercise of its discretion in finding that the appellant had failed to discharge the onus to prove that exceptional circumstances exist permitting his release on bail.
“In the result the following order is made: the appeal against the refusal to grant bail to the appellant is dismissed.”
Tumisang Katake, Pule’s uncle, told journalists that the family were relieved that Shoba did not get bail.
“We as a family have always had confidence in the strength of the National Prosecuting Authority’s case (against Shoba). From the family side, we did anticipate that he was going to appeal. I’m not even going to be surprised if he petitions the SCA for his bail,” said Katake, a lawyer by profession.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what Mr Shoba’s avenues will be before the trial.”
The trial was scheduled to kick off by October 4.