Hillary Gardee murder: three suspects set to walk free

Hillary Gardee. Picture: Supplied

Hillary Gardee. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 21, 2022


Johannesburg - The Hillary Gardee murder case is set for yet another twist as the forth man who allegedly confessed to killing her is expected to appear in court this week and exonerate the three men initially arrested in the case.

It is alleged that the men also intend to sue the State.

Police insiders told Sunday Independent that Rassie Hlabirwa Nkuna, who appeared at the Delmas Magistrate’s Court for killing 27-year-old Nonkululeko Crystal Nkosi two weeks ago and dumping her body in a farm dam before driving off with her Mercedes Benz, maintains that he acted alone when he killed Gardee.

Hillary Gardee, the daughter of Godrich Gardee, EFF former secretary-general, now the head of international relations, is missing. A reward of R100 000 has been issued for information that lead to relocating her

He said he did not know Philemon Lukhele, Sipho Mkhatshwa and Albert Gama, the men who were initially arrested in connection with the murder of the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.

The lawyer representing Lukhele and Gama, advocate Nqobizitha Mlilo has written to the police and national prosecuting authority to drop the charges against his clients after Nkuna’s alleged confession.

Mkhatshwa’s lawyer, advocate Sakhile Nkosi, said yesterday his client was likely to sue the state for wrongful arrest and public humiliation.

Nkosi confirmed he was made aware that Nkuna confessed that he acted alone when he killed Gardee.

According to the police, Nkuna used Facebook and dating sites to target young working women and then kill them and rob them on their first date.

When he appeared in Delmas on Monday, Nkuna was accused of murder for allegedly strangling Nkosi before dumping her body in the dam, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Nkosi was discovered by a farmworker and allegedly gave the police the identity of her attacker before she died.

It is alleged she told the police that she met the 36-year-old Nkuna on Facebook where he called himself Richard Mokoena and she agreed to meet him in Benoni, east of Joburg, on a date when he attacked her, drove off with her car and left her for dead.

Nkuna has been on the run from the police after he allegedly also shot and killed two sisters at KaNyamazane, outside Nelspruit in Mpumalanga on May 15 this year, just 10 days after Gardee’s body was discovered in the bush near a plantation, about 60km outside Nelspruit.

The 28-year-old Gardee was kidnapped on April 29 and Nkuna allegedly confessed that he did it after he also met her on Facebook and asked her out for a date.

According to police insiders, Nkuna was caught on camera withdrawing money from Gardee’s account via ATM in Sabie, also in Mpumalanga, after she went missing.

Nkuna also told police that he sold Gardee’s cellphone and laptop to a Nigerian national who was arrested last Sunday for defeating the ends of justice.

“When the man switched on the laptop the following day, he realised it was Hillary’s gadget and he phoned Nkuna to come and get it back as he didn’t want to be implicated in a crime he didn’t commit as the news that Gardee was missing was all over the news,” A source close to the investigation said.

The man, who can’t be named yet, was released from the Nelspruit Magistrate’s court on Wednesday before he could even appear in court.

The NPA ordered that he must be released as they couldn’t prosecute him and it is rumoured that he would turn state witness.

A police source said the man met with Godrich, who was accompanied by an undercover police officer posing as his brother, on Sunday and confessed to buying Hillary’s gadgets from Nkuna and also failing to report it to the police.

He was arrested shortly after this meeting.

Correctional services spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo, said Nkuna was sentenced to four years on September 29, 2015 for possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was then placed on parole on July 6, 2016.

“He then absconded from the system of Community Corrections and was arrested on September 16, 2020 on allegations that he had committed another crime, rape.

“The rape case was eventually withdrawn in court. Nkuna was once again placed on parole on January 17, 2022. Whilst on parole, it is alleged that he killed his girlfriend and sister. He is also charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances.”

The women’s mother, Samaria Mazibuko, yesterday said all she wanted was justice for her daughters.

“He shot and killed them in broad daylight in full view of witnesses,” she said.