Hillary Gardee murder: One of accused works in office of Mpumalanga chief whip

Three suspects appeared in the Mpumalanga magistrate’s court on Monday morning for the murder of Hillary Gardee, 28. The daughter of former Economic Freedom Front secretary general Godrich Gardee was shot in the back of the head and stabbed in the chest after being kidnapped in Nelspruit on 29 April. 

Sipho Lawrence Mkhatshwa, 39, Philemon “Philly” Lukhele, 47, and Albert “Khabzela” Gama, 52, appeared in the magistrate’s court on charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, murder, rape, the possession of an unlicensed firearm and defeating the ends of justice.

Lukhele is an employee in the office of the chief whip in the Mpumalanga legislature and a member of the ruling ANC

The provincial legislature has condemned the murder and distanced itself “from the acts of killing of innocent people”. 

“This office stands for the protection of women, young girls and boys and condemns in the strongest terms any acts of violence perpetrated against the vulnerable especially women and children and any acts of GBV+F,” provincial chief whip Fidel Mlombo said in a statement on Monday. 

“We trust the laws of this country that there will be a successful investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators and that those who are found to have committed this heinous crime are put behind bars and removed from the streets for the safety of our society.”

Mlombo said that because of the serious nature of the charges against Lukhele, the provincial legislature initiated an internal process against him, “in accordance with the labour laws of our country”. 

Gardee’s funeral was on Saturday.

Her body was found on 3 May in a plantation near the road linking Nelspruit and Sabie, 60km away from the Nelspruit Plaza Spar where she was kidnapped on the afternoon of 29 April.  

The three accused abandoned their bail applications on Monday and will remain in custody until the matter resumes on 9 June. 

More arrests are expected.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Hlophe accuses high court of trying to rewrite the law

The court deviated impermissibly from the constitution to sanctify the composition of the Judicial Service Commission when it found that he should face impeachment for gross misconduct, the Western Cape judge president argued in an application for leave to appeal

Boehly’s Chelsea takeover puts US tycoon in spotlight

The American has grand ambitions for the west London club as he targets sustained success on the pitch and financial growth off it.

‘Myths’ are keeping township residents from sterilising pets

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha wants to increase the number of pets getting sterilised to curb overpopulation.

We need to declare a state of emergency on policing

Never was the saying ‘Who will guard the guardians?’ more appropriate than at the present

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…