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Security beefed up as Hillary Gardee accused appear in court

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
May 09 2022. Albert Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Sipho Gama are the men appearing in the Nelspriut magistrates court in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Hillary Gardee who was found murdered just outside Mbombela.
May 09 2022. Albert Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Sipho Gama are the men appearing in the Nelspriut magistrates court in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Hillary Gardee who was found murdered just outside Mbombela.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Bester Street which leads to the Nelspruit magistrate's court has been barricaded with barbed wire and a large police presence ahead of the court appearance of three men accused of murdering Hillary Gardee. 

EFF leadership,  including provincial chairperson Collen Sedibe and deputy secretary-general Poppy Mailola, are waiting outside the Nelspruit magistrate's court with the Gardee family while the court where the accused are suppose to appear is dealing with other matters. 

EFF and community members  outside the court are singing Struggle songs calling for the court to be strict  in dealing with the accused. 

Sipho Lawrence Mkhatshwa,39, Phillimon "Mhlabunzima" Lukhele, 47, and Albert Gama, 52, are accused of abducting Hillary, the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee, on April 29 while she was  shopping at Nelspruit Plaza. 

During her abduction Hillary was with her adopted three-year-old daughter who was left on Umnenke Street at KaMaGugu, less than one kilometre from their house. 

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

Mkhatshwa was arrested on May 6, in Schoemansdal outside Malalane, while Lukhele and Gama were arrested in Mbombela.

According to sources within the investigation, Mkhatshwa's arrest came after a sangoma he consulted for cleansing after the crime blew the whistle. Mkhatshwa then pointed out Lukhele's guesthouse as the place where Hillary  had been kept.

All three initially abandoned their bail application, however Mkhatshwa made a U-turn and decided to apply for bail.

His bail application was put on hold last week after his lawyer  ditched him, citing conflict of interest.

Lukhele, a senior manager in the  ANC chief whip's office in Mpumalanga, has since been suspended without pay following his arrest.

Gama is a security guard at Lukhele's Intsika guesthouse.

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