The man who was arrested for 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule’s murder last year has pleaded guilty to having killed the expectant mother and been given 20 years in jail.
Pule was found stabbed and hanging from a tree in a Roodepoort last June. She was eight months’ pregnant at the time and her death sent shockwaves through the country.
Muzikayise Malephane, 31, was arrested in the weeks following Pule’s death and on Friday morning at the South Gauteng High Court, he pleaded guilty to murder, defeating the administration of justice as well as illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
This in accordance with a deal he has struck with the state, in terms of which Malaphane – who says he was a hired hand – also agreed to testify against the alleged mastermind behind Pule’s death.
His advocate, Joelene Muir, read out a statement on Malephane’s behalf, in which he named the alleged mastermind but the suspect – while he was on Friday arrested – has yet to appear in court and cannot be named publicly until he has.
Malephane said in his statement that the two of them had been friends since high school and that he was first offered R7000 and then R70,000 to kill Pule.
He said initially, the plan was to hang her and make it look like a suicide. In the end, though, he shot her. He still hanged her afterwards, though.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng – who presided over the case – described Pule’s death as “ghastly, reprehensible and brutal”.
He said ordinarily he would have given Malephane a harsher sentence.
But, he said, it appeared that without his evidence, the alleged mastermind might evade justice.
“I’m persuaded there’s a possibility that if this accused does not lead evidence against the so-called mastermind, the so-called mastermind may possibly evade the dictates of the law,” he said – adding that because of this, he considered it a just sentence.