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'I was at church & preparing for my wedding' when Hillary Gardee was killed, says murder suspect

Graeme Hosken Senior reporter
Sipho Mkhatshwa says he was nowhere near Hillary Gardee when she was kidnapped and murdered. He is applying to be released on bail.
Sipho Mkhatshwa says he was nowhere near Hillary Gardee when she was kidnapped and murdered. He is applying to be released on bail.
Image: Graeme Hosken/TimesLIVE

A suspect in the Hillary Gardee murder trial launched his bail application at the Mbombela magistrate's court in Mpumalanga on Thursday, saying he was nowhere near the IT graduate at the time of her abduction and killing.

Sipho Mkhatshwa, dressed in a grey and black tracksuit top and jeans, sat quietly as his affidavit was read out by his advocate Sifiso Silindza.

Mkhatshwa, in his affidavit, declared he is a father of five children and an elder in the Roman Catholic Church in the Malelane district.

He mapped out his whereabouts at the time Gardee was kidnapped on April 29 until when her body was found on a gravel road alongside a pine plantation on May 3.

According to Mkhatshwa, he spent the five days when the state alleges he kidnapped and killed Gardee attending church, comforting a bereaved family, buying two car batteries, fitting clothes for his upcoming wedding with his children and bride-to-be, preparing his yard with his gardener for the wedding, shopping for cooldrinks and food and arranging with a vet a permit for the slaughter of a cow for a lebola ceremony.

“At the time the deceased disappeared — 5.30pm on April 29 — I was with my gardener.

“On the day she was killed I was leading a church service, offering comfort to bereaved friends, fitting our wedding clothes, collecting my fiancée from a hair salon.

“On the day the state alleges I was involved in the murder, I was in church and then went to a Portuguese festival until 7pm.

“I am innocent of all charges. Instead the police tortured me into confessing to the crimes and implicating my co-accused,” he said.

Proceedings have been briefly adjourned.

TimesLIVE


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