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'The truth will come out one day,' says Gardee murder accused

Sipho Mkhatshwa in court as he pleads his innocence and fights for bail.
Sipho Mkhatshwa in court as he pleads his innocence and fights for bail.
Image: Graeme Hosken/TimesLIVE

“I can rot in jail for all I care. I know the truth will come out one day and justice will be served.”

So says Sipho Mkhatshwa, one of the men accused of murdering the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee. 

Mkhatshwa was speaking on Monday during his bail application in the Mbombela (Nelspruit) magistrate's court, where he was questioned by his counsel, advocate Sakhile Nkosi. 

Nkosi asked Mkhatshwa to tell the court about two visits he had from Mbombela police station commander Brig John Madonsela and investigating officer (IO) Col Thamsanqa Mkhaliphi.

Mkhatshwa said the two officers visited him in prison and asked that he turn state witness.

“They told me they know Albert Gama [accused 3] is not linked to the crime. They also told me they have arrested four more suspects in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, and the four men will implicate me in the crime. They told me they'll give me time to think about the offer and will come back again.

“I obviously rejected this offer because I cannot be a witness to a crime I didn't witness. I can rot in jail if I have to, but I will not agree to doing something I have not done.”

During his arrest, Mkhatshwa had apparently implicated his two co-accused and given a statement. He has since said he agreed with what was in the statement to avoid further “torture from police”.

“I didn't write that statement. The police officer came with a statement written already. He transferred it from one document to another. I just agreed with what was in there because I was trying to save my life.”

Mkhatshwa said it was strange that every time the investigating officer visited him in prison he was accompanied by the station commander.

“I even asked the IO if the station commander accompanies him to every case he's investigating. I'm really wondering what is the station commander's interest in this matter.”

Mkhatshwa is one of the three men arrested in connection with the murder of Hillary Gardee.

She went missing on April 29 while shopping with her adopted toddler daughter. The child was found a few streets away from their home. Hillary’s body was found next to a pine plantation 40km outside Mbombela on May 2. She had been shot dead. 

Mkhatshwa's bail application stopped abruptly last month when his then attorney withdrew from the case, citing a conflict of interest.

Prosecutor advocate Ntsika Mpolweni suggested to Mkhatshwa that his release on bail might disturb the public peace, as people were picketing outside court.

Mkhatshwa said: “Those people are picketing against the brutal killing of women and children. They want to see justice served. They are not protesting against me, it's nothing personal. They are fed up with femicide. If I was not in prison now I would be with them because I agree with them in principle.”

The bail hearing continues.


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