Gardee accused's lawyer denies being part of conspiracy to murder witness

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
A lawyer representing the accused in the murder case of Hilary Gardee has denied being part of a conspiracy to kill a witness in the case.
A lawyer representing the accused in the murder case of Hilary Gardee has denied being part of a conspiracy to kill a witness in the case.
Image: 123RF/Lukas Gojda

The lawyer of two men accused of murdering Hillary Gardee has denied being involved in a conspiracy to murder any witness in the case.

Adv Ncobizitha Mlilo called on the state to clarify if they were charging him or not. 

Investigating officer Col Thamsanqa Mkhaliphi told the Nelspruit magistrate's court on Tuesday that the accused – Sipho Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Albert Gama – and their lawyer had hatched a plan to kill a witness.

Addressing the court on Wednesday, Mlilo said: "Before I proceed, there are a few matters to be fixed. Yesterday I was called by state prosecutor Adv [Ntsika] Mpolweni.

"He said it appeared that Col Mkhaliphi, who is an investigating officer in the case, made statements on the adding of charges of conspiracy to commit murder, the utterances were made in the presence of the attorney of accused two and three [Lukhele and Gama] ... which is myself.

"It was put to one of the witnesses during the bail application of accused one [Mkhatshwa] on why is Adv Mlilo not arrested or if he will ever be arrested," he said.

"Adv Mpolweni further suggested that the matter will arise during this bail application [for Gama and Lukhele] and in his view, I was conflicted and I should consider to withdraw appearing on this matter.

"I told him that I appreciate what he said to me and I told my clients, their family and comrades. However, in that view and matter, I would like to put it on record that I deny having been part of a conspiracy to murder any witness," said Mlilo. 

Mpolweni said the conversation with Mlilo was confidential and should not have been brought up in court. 

He further questioned why Mlilo would opt to talk about his possible arrest or charge rather than continuing to represent the accused. "This is the reason I was saying this matter will arise in this court. My colleague [Mlilo] here talks about himself denying [the allegations rather] than representing the accused in court," said Mpolweni. 

Mlilo said he was threatened by members of a certain political party and was told that the organisation is willing to kill for Gardee, the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.

The court advised Mlilo to open a case. 

Gardee was killed on April 30, a day after she went missing while shopping at Nelspruit Plaza with her adopted three-year-old daughter. 

The  child was later dumped unharmed at KaMagugu, where they lived. 

Gardee’s  body was found with stab wounds, boot prints and a gunshot wound  by timber plantation workers on May 3, about 60km outside Mbombela towards Sabie.

The case continues.

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