Tshegofatso Pule killing: South African police make arrest

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Tshegofatso Pule was missing for four days before her body was found

South African police have arrested a 31-year-old man for the murder of a woman whose stabbed body was found hanging from a tree last week, triggering a national outcry.

Twenty-eight-year-old Tshegofatso Pule was eight months pregnant.

The man is due to appear in court later on Wednesday.

After her death, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the culture of silence around gender-based violence had to end.

Ms Pule went missing on 4 June and four days later a member of the public found her body in the Johannesburg suburb of Roodepoort.

She was hanging from a tree and had been stabbed through the chest.

There was a wave of outrage in South Africa after her death and the hashtag #JusticeForTshego trended on Twitter.

South Africa’s gender crime crisis

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On Saturday President Ramaphosa released a statement denouncing gender-based violence.

He said it had become more dangerous for women during South Africa’s lockdown.

“We note with disgust that at a time when the country is facing the gravest of threats from the [coronavirus] pandemic, violent men are taking advantage of the eased restrictions on movement to attack women and children,” he said

Calls for justice

Mr Ramaphosa condemned the brutality of recent killings, mentioning Ms Pule and two other victims:

  • Naledi Phangindawo – the 25-year-old was stabbed to death in the harbour city of Mossel Bay last Saturday. Those using the hashtag #JusticeforNaledi want the suspect, who is now in police custody, to be denied bail. He is believed to be her partner.
  • Sanele Mfaba – the young woman had been dumped under a tree in Johannesburg’s Soweto township on Friday.

As many as 51% of women in South Africa had experienced violence at the hands of someone they were in a relationship with, the president’s statement said.

He urged people to report crimes.

“Gender-based violence thrives in a climate of silence. With our silence, by looking the other way because we believe it is a personal or family matter, we become complicit in this most insidious of crimes,” President Ramaphosa said.

Following an outcry over a spate of femicides last year, President Ramaphosa said South Africa was one of “the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman”.

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