Suspect arrested for Hillary Gardee’s murder is 39-year-old man
The suspect arrested in connection with the murder of Hillary Gardee is a 39-year-old man, police said on Saturday.
“We did make one arrest on Friday but the investigation is still continuing,” said Mpumalanga police commissioner, Lt-Gen Semakaleng Daphney Manamela, speaking late on Friday outside the home of Gardee's father, former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.
A statement from Manamela's office on Saturday, shortly before Gardee's funeral, Saturday said: “The male suspect is facing a murder charge and more charges could be added against him as the investigation proceeds.
“He is expected to appear before the Nelspruit magistrate's court on Monday. Police are adamant that more arrests could be made in connection with the case.”
The suspect was arrested at his “hiding place” in Schoemansdal, east of Mbombela and just north of the border with Eswatini, said the statement.
Manamela thanked police minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Gen Fanie Masemola for “the unwavering support that they gave to the province with regard to this case and for having shown trust as well as confidence on the team that was assembled by the Mpumalanga provincial commissioner”.
She added: “We also want to thank the public for their overwhelming support and encouragement as we toiled since we began working on this case.
We were never derailed but our joy will be fulfilled when justice is served and every person that had a hand on the murder of Hillary Gardee is brought to book.”
Gardee, a 28-year-old IT graduate, was found murdered on Tuesday, four days after she disappeared.
Her body was found in a field outside Mbombela. She had been shot, apparently in the back of her head.
Gardee vanished after a shopping trip to a Spar, about 6km from the home she shared with her brother and her adopted three-year-old daughter.
The little girl was found abandoned in the street about a kilometre from their home on the evening of her disappearance on April 29.
She told strangers who found her that her mother had been “fighting”, sounding the alarm that something was amiss.
Godrich Gardee headed to the Spar where his daughter was last seen and obtained CCTV footage showing her shopping with her daughter. With nothing out of the ordinary being revealed, it was not immediately clear when and where his daughter had been abducted.
The family said there was a cardless banking transaction involving an amount of R1,300, showing Gardee sent herself this money around the time of her abduction.
EFF and family spokesperson Sinawo Tambo said they suspected this was a deviation to make it look like a common criminal act.
“One cannot shoot someone in the head for R1,300. The risk is too high. It doesn’t inspire us to believe this was a common criminal act. If you can afford a gun and ammunition, you don’t need that much money to conduct a crime. We are a family that is not stupid,” said Tambo.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.