Mourners bid farewell to bubbly Pule, who was always there for them

Mourners at Tshegofatso Pule's graveside.
heartbroken Mourners at Tshegofatso Pule's graveside.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

Emotions ran high at the Dobsonville cemetery in Soweto on Thursday, as family members and mourners bade farewell to Tshegofatso Pule, 28, who was found murdered on Monday. She was eight months pregnant.

Family members sobbed uncontrollably as her casket was lowered into the ground. Others clutched tissues, wiping away tears.

The mood was sombre.

Pink and white balloons were released in memory of Pule, whose body was found hanging from a tree in the veld in Durban Deep, Roodepoort. She had been stabbed in the chest. Her unborn daughter did not survive.

Earlier at the family home in Meadowlands, Soweto, police tried their best to limit those attending the service to 50 people, in line with Covid-19 regulations. Police and soldiers barricaded the area.

Pule’s sister, Mimi, was crippled with emotion as she recalled a memory of her sister, whom she described as her everything. They lost their parents at a young age.

“Early this year I was diagnosed with depression. When Tshego came, she [jokingly] asked me if was crazy or if I was told that I am crazy. I asked her what she meant and she said: ‘Learn to forgive. Yes, mom and dad left us, but you need to learn to forgive, let go.’”

She recalled how Tshego assured her she would never leave her.

“She said: ‘I will be always there for you. I am going to Grace Bible Church and I will pray for you. You are going to find peace in your heart,’” Mimi said.

Balloons with an image of Tshegofatso Pule were released into the sky during her funeral service in Meadowlands, Soweto.
In memory of Tshego Balloons with an image of Tshegofatso Pule were released into the sky during her funeral service in Meadowlands, Soweto.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

Tshepiso Tsita, a childhood friend of Pule’s, said while she was heartbroken, she wanted mourners not only to remember how she died, but how she lived.

“Tshego would really be proud of the way that everyone has been there for each other [since her death] and are pulling together, united in support.

“It goes to show that we all carry a little bit of Tshego inside ourselves. If we are looking for something positive to come out of something this painful, it is that new friendships will be formed and Tshego would love that.”

Tsita said Pule loved her friends and family dearly. She always wanted to see them happy.

“Nothing was more important than those close to her. So, let’s keep close to each other and do what she would have wanted. She would want us to be happy. Laughter always got her through the hard times and laughter will get us through ours.”

Some of her most-used phrases were: “Don’t forget to laugh, stop crying, softie ... ” recalled Tsita.

Pule worked as a makeup artist at a MAC cosmetics store and wanted to pursue a career in marketing.

After her parents, Lungi and Makina Mashiane, died, her aunt, Priscilla Giwu, took her in 11 years ago.

Pule also has two brothers.

Pule’s uncle, who defended murderer Sandile Mantsoe, pledged to never again represent those who rape, kill and molest women and children.

In 2018, Mantsoe was sentenced to 32 years in prison for murdering Karabo Mokoena, whose charred remains were found in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg, in April 2017.

“Tshego is Karabo Mokoena today. I now know how it feels. I now know what the family of Karabo went through.

“Yes, I did my job, but now I know what it feels like for the family,” Tumisang Katake said.

Another of Pule’s friends, Thato Manye, with whom she grew up, said: “She was a very loving person and was always happy. She was a fashionista and knew how to dress.

“At first I couldn’t believe that she passed away, but as time went by I had to make peace with it. Even now it’s still hard to believe”

Another friend, Lungile Vezi, described her as a bubbly and caring person, who went “above and beyond” for those close to her.

“She was always helpful and went out of her way for people. You wouldn’t struggle if she was around.

“I always told her if she ever needed something I would be there for her and I know she would have done the same for me. She knew how I felt about her.”

This is not an ordinary death, it’s a tragic death. The family should not have to mourn alone, so wherever you are, stand outside your home and salute the hearse as it passes.
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi

Among those who attended the funeral were EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, who asked the Soweto community to support the Pule family, even though Covid-19 made it difficult for people to be with them.

“This is not an ordinary death, it’s a tragic death. The family should not have to mourn alone, so wherever you are, stand outside your home and salute the hearse as it passes.”

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