A sombre farewell to Tshegofatso Pule
Female funeral director speaks out against gender-based violence and says #WomensLivesMatter
Johannesburg, : Friends, family and the Soweto community again had to confront the grim reality of gender-based violence as Tshegofatso Pule was laid to rest this morning. The 28-year-old, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death, was found stabbed in the chest and hanging from a tree in open veld near Durban Deep, Roodepoort on Monday. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the funeral ceremony was held at her home in Meadowlands, where heartbroken loved ones struggled to come to terms with her murder.
“This is a triple tragedy for the family,” says Nkateko Mabindisa, Director and Co-founder of Vuyo’s Funerals, which handled the arrangements. “Tshego’s uncle, Tumisang Katake, told mourners that he had heard of his niece’s death and the death of the baby she was carrying just two days after he had buried a cousin who had been killed by the man who was meant to protect her.”
Tragically, Nkateko and the staff at Vuyo’s see the results of the scourge of gender-based violence far too often – and it’s heart-breaking work.
“GBV is nothing short of a national emergency,” she says, “and, as a society, we have to confront the bitter truth that the women and girl children of South Africa are in great danger, not from an external enemy, but from the men they live with and among.”
According to the Crime Against Women in South Africa Report, published by Statistics South Africa in September last year, femicide (the murder of women based on their gender) is five times higher in South Africa than the global average.
“While the reasons for this may be complex, the fact is that our mothers, sisters and daughters are dying in horrific ways and we cannot rest until every woman and girl child is safe. In the same spirit of #BlackLivesMatter, it’s time for every South African to say: #WomensLivesMatter and to do whatever they can in both their personal and collective capacities to put an end to what can only be described as a reign of terror.”
To honour the life of Thesgo Pule and the lives of the many other women who have died in a similar way, Vuyo’s Funerals handled all of the arrangements for her funeral and burial at no cost to the family.
“We wanted to reach out and, in some small way, alleviate the burden of the family at this incredibly sad time,” says Nkateko. “And we also wanted to say, in our own way: #WomensLivesMatter.”