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Hillary Gardee: What you need to know about the case and suspects charged with her murder

10 May 2022 - 13:00
Sipho Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Albert Gama appear in the Nelspruit magistrate's court in connection with the death of Hillary Gardee. They are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, rape, murder, hijacking and defeating the ends of justice.
Sipho Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Albert Gama appear in the Nelspruit magistrate's court in connection with the death of Hillary Gardee. They are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, rape, murder, hijacking and defeating the ends of justice.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Three suspects arrested in connection with Hillary Gardee’s murder appeared in the Mbombela magistrate’s court on Monday.

The body of the 28-year-old daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee was found in a field near Mbombela, Mpumalanga, last Tuesday.

She was laid to rest on Saturday.

Here is what you need to know about her murder:

The suspects 

Sipho Lawrence Mkhatshwa, 39, Philemon Lukhele, 47, and Mduzuzi Gama, 52, are charged with murder, rape, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and possession of illegal firearms.

Lukhele is a senior manager in the office of ANC chief whip Fidel Mlombo in the Mpumalanga legislature. He also owns a guest house in Mbombela, where it is believed Hillary was killed. 

According to the EFF, Lukhele asked to send condolences to the Gardee family, claiming to know the family personally.

The case

The state applied for the case to be postponed until June 9 to conduct further investigations. 

All three suspects abandoned their bail application and will waive claims for bail to allow investigations to continue.

The trio were ordered back into police custody and will receive medical attention after claiming that they were tortured after their arrest at the weekend.

The possibility of there being more arrests has not been ruled out by police.

Politically and financially motivated 

The motive for Hillary’s killing is unknown.However, speaking at her funeral, police minister Bheki Cele said her death could be politically, financially and criminally motivated.

“There’s been a question asked time and again by the media is it political? Is it criminal? And it does seem to be a combination of both. At this present moment, we have four men who chased this woman around. The one is going to court on Monday, we have three more men of interest,” he said. 

Cele reiterated that no-one involved in Hillary’s murder would escape the law.

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