By Gen Terblanche15 May 2023
Imibuzo episode 2 recap: Killed for cash and convenience
Now streaming on Showmax, Imibuzo is a true-crime documentary anthology that will answer your lingering questions about some of South Africa’s biggest news stories from the last decade.
Recap: What happened in Imibuzo season 1, episode 1?
Watch the trailer for Imibuzo
Imibuzo episode 2: The case of Tshegofatso Pule
On Sunday, 7 June 2020, 28-year-old beautician Tshegofatso Pule was found shot dead and slumped over on her knees, hanging by her neck from a tree in Durban Deep, Roodepoort. She was eight months pregnant and had been missing for four days. Tshegofatso was last seen going to visit her lover, Ntuthuko Shoba, an analyst on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, on Thursday, 4 June.
In February 2021, a man named Muzikayise Malephane was sentenced to 20 years in prison for Tshegofatso’s murder. But in January 2022, Muzikayise revealed that Ntuthuko Shoba had hired him to commit the murder, and on 29 July 2022, Judge Stuart Wilson sentenced Ntuthuko to life in prison. And why? The dots were easy to connect. Ntuthuko was engaged to another woman, and Tshegofatso and her baby were simply in the way.
Tshegofatso and her unborn baby weren’t these men’s only victims. In the two years since Tshegofatso’s death, her family, friends and community have continued to suffer. Ntuthuko wanted to stage a scene that would make it seem as if Tshegofatso had taken her own life. And that meant creating a traumatising spectacle using a dead, heavily pregnant woman’s corpse.
During his trial, Nthuthuko tried to defend himself by smearing Tshegofatso’s reputation. Her friend Botlhlale Modisane, spokesperson for the Tshegofatso Pule Foundation, reveals, “We always walked out angry and so shocked because every single court appearance Shoba would paint Tshego in the most gruesome manner. He made sure that he put her across as an airhead, first and foremost.” So Imibuzo starts her story by bringing Tshegofatso back into focus through the eyes of the people who loved her.
Her uncle, defence attorney Tumisang Katake, describes her as a little firecracker. “Once you get to know her you’d realise that she was an outgoing person. Very outstanding. As short as she was, you would notice her,” he says.
Tshegofatso’s aunt Neo Giwu, who’d raised her ever since when she was orphaned at the age of 10, praises her as a passionate young woman with a future as a makeup artist in her sights. “She was a child that could put her foot down and focus on where she was headed in life,” says Neo.
Botlhlale agrees, describing Tshegofatso as someone who was on the cutting edge of trends. “When it’s out of fashion for her, it would be in fashion for everybody else. She’s always been such a groundbreaker.”
Tshegofatso was filled with motherly plans, too, down to the clothes for her newborn – it would be only the best for her baby girl. According to Neo, the whole family was looking forward to the birth of Tshegofatso’s daughter and among the aunts, there were dreams about holding little Kamano. Cruelly, it would be the excitement that Tshegofatso felt for dressing her daughter that Shoba used to lure her to her death.
Enter the killer
A bright, ambitious and beautiful young woman like Tshegofatso would have no trouble attracting attention. But according to her family, Shoba went out of his way to dodge attention himself, to the point of rudeness.
Tumisang Katake says, “I remember when we accompanied Tshego out of the complex gate, I saw this boy and I said to her, ‘So, Tshego, is this your boyfriend?’ But of course Tshego was shy to admit to me that it’s her boyfriend. I remember saying to Shoba, ‘You need to take care of my little girl.’” Shoba told Tshego’s uncle not to worry. “That was the first and last time I met Shoba … until recently, in the court cases,” Tumisang adds.
“As to where Shoba came from, we don’t know,” admits Neo Giwu. According to Neo, Shoba would pick Tshego up at the family’s complex, but he’d never show his face. He’d hoot and stay in the car, waiting for Tshego to come out to him.
And when the family asked her to bring him inside so they could talk to him, he refused. “If you were to step out while Shoba was parked by the gate, you’d never find him seated straight up inside the car. The minute he’d notice that someone was coming, he would slant backward,” she adds.
A cruel discovery
The last time Tshego’s family saw her was at 4pm on a Thursday. Shoba had called her to discuss arrangements for baby clothes. She asked her family to leave the gate unlocked, telling them that she would be back by 10pm. When she didn’t return, her family assumed that the couple had had some sort of reconciliation.
But fears mounted as hours and then days and sleepless nights went by without Tshegofatso answering messages or phone calls, Her family reported her missing on the Saturday and one day later, they’d learn of her death – through strangers, when a video started circulating on social media.
Neo cries as she remembers how she saw her child’s body. “I remember when I saw Tshego’s photo at Spar, inside a shopping centre. There was a lady and as I walked past, she mentioned how it was such a tragedy and asked that they show me the video. I went there. The child zoomed the video out so that we could see. I was numb. I didn’t know what to do … I never thought about how I’d see Tshego’s body on a phone. I can’t close my eyes and picture a beautiful Tshegofatso. Social media is cruel. Very cruel,” says Neo. “You need to remember, we were born before technology. We don’t understand those apps. Until somebody shows you. When you have a look, you notice that this is your child. You melt on the spot.”
Not even the funeral, held just days later, could bring peace. “Sometimes I wish I never saw her on the day of her funeral. I’ve never seen such a badly bruised corpse. I’ve never seen a child as badly bruised as Tshego was,” admits Neo. “Tshego was bleeding even on the day of her funeral. The white dress they made for her, the pure white dress, was full of blood.”
No resting in peace
Tshego was buried on 11 June 2020, but to this day Neo wonders whether Tshego’s soul can rest in peace. “We saw pictures of her hanging on cellphones. There are so many things that took place while we weren’t there to help her. There are so many things that we picture.”
Neo tells Imibuzo, “Do you know up until today we haven’t had time to mourn Tshego’s death? We never sat down as a family and talked about this. I cannot say we can’t find the time. We’re afraid of the pain we encountered from her death.”
Their grief and pain racked up for nearly two years in court. Tumisang Katake explains, “The first suspect was arrested four or five days later, Mr Malephane. Five days fresh from burial, now we have to get up, go to court, and make sure that we are fighting the cause, to make sure that Tshego’s killer is brought to book. And immediately after the conviction and sentencing of Mr Malephane, we learn about the arrest of Mr Shoba.”
Called by death, three times
Victims’ loved ones often torture themselves, asking what they could have done to have changed fate. It would come out during Ntuthuko Shoba’s trial that Tshegofatso’s family and friends actually had saved her from Muzikayise Malephane and Ntuthuko Shoba’s first attempt to lure her to her death with a job offer.
Tumisang Katake reveals, “It was surprising because she was highly expectant at the time this fake interview was being arranged. One of her friends discouraged her, not even thinking it was a setup for her to be killed. [They told her] ‘No one will interview you in the middle of a hard lockdown and ask you to meet at the restaurant’.”
During the trial, Malephane would reveal that he was, indeed, supposed to meet Tshegofatso at the restaurant, then kill her on the way to the “interview” and throw her body in a stream near Mondeor for people to find her.
When that plan fell through thanks to her concerned friends, Shoba suggested a new plan: that Malephane pretend to be an Uber driver, kill Tshegofatso, hang her over at the Maraisburg bridge on the N1 and leave a note making it seem as if she was suicidal. But highways are busy and in the end the two men decided that it would be far too dangerous – for them – to kill her that way.
Eventually the two men settled on Durban Deep as a less busy location for the murder. And in the last CCTV footage showing Tshegofatso, Imibuzo shows Shoba handing her over to Malephane. From there, Imibuzo reenacts what Malephane claimed happened as he drove Tshegofatso past her turnoff, dragged her out of his car in Noordgesig, shot her in the chest, then drove to Durban Deep to stage her suicide scene.
Tshepo Bodibe, one of the first to find Tshegofatso’s body, takes Imibuzo to where he found her. Today there’s only a white cross at the base of a tree, already leaning over and half hidden in the long grass. For Tshepo, for Tshegofatso’s family, and even for the reporters like Drum Magazine’s Snazo Notho who covered her case, though, there is no peace.
“Life has changed,” says Neo sadly. “I grew up in a time when I knew that men were like a refuge. You run to a man because he’s strong. That man can protect you. But today, that’s not how things are. Men have become their partners’ enemies.”
New episodes will drop every Monday until 10 July 2023, with the next two episodes focusing respectively on the Enyobeni Tavern massacre, in which 21 people died, many of them underage, and on the murder of LGBTQI+ activist Lindokuhle Cele.
Imibuzo is being produced by POP24, part of Media24, who made the reality series This Body Works For Me, which topped the Showmax Top 20 and Twitter trends charts. POP24 also co-produced the SAFTA-nominated true crime anthology Huisgenoot: Ware Lewensdramas.
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