Victims of robbery forced to have sex

Robbed guesthouse linked to Gardee’s murder

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
Insika guest house, where students and security guards were held at gunpoint on Thursday.
Insika guest house, where students and security guards were held at gunpoint on Thursday.

Victims of a robbery at Intsika guesthouse in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, have told of their ordeal after thugs stormed the facility and forced students living there and security guards to have sex as they watched.

Police confirmed that a case of robbery was under investigation following Thursday night’s incident.

The ordeal, police said, started when heavily armed robbers pounced on the guards and some students on Thursday night and took them into  a room.

They ordered them to take off their clothes and sleep with each other.

“A house robbery case was opened after it was alleged that three armed suspects attacked students and guards in a guesthouse in Nelspruit,” said provincial police spokesperson Capt Magonseni Nkosi.

“According to information, the suspects robbed the victims of six cellphones at gun point. It is further alleged that the suspects wanted to know the whereabouts of the guesthouse's owner [Philemon Lukhele].

“The suspects allegedly instructed the victims to undress and male victims were allegedly forced to rape the female victims. One victim, a security guard, managed to escape and the suspects immediately fled the scene,” said Nkosi.

One of the victims who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity said they  had high calibre firearms pointed at them  before being taken to a bedroom.

“This is sad and traumatic to all of us. These people were carrying very big guns and asked for the owner [Lukhele] and we said he was not there as he doesn’t live here, and [at] that [point], they ordered the students and security guards to go into one room.

“Inside, they ordered everyone to undress, that’s when they told the males to have sex with the females,” said the victim.

Another  victim said he heard a car driving away after one of the security guards escaped and alerted people to what was happening.

Intsika guesthouse was thrust into the spotlight a few years ago after police claimed that slain Hillary Gardee was killed at the facility and her body loaded onto a vehicle and dumped elsewhere.

Gardee, the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee, was murdered in April 2022.

Sipho Mkhatshwa, Lukhele, Albert Gama and Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna were accused of kidnapping and killing her.

Gardee went missing on April 29 while shopping with her adopted three-year-old daughter at the Nelspruit Plaza.

Her daughter was later dropped  off at a street in KaMaGugu township the same night.

Timber plantation workers found Hillary’s lifeless body about 60km outside Mbombela towards Sabie a few days later.

Charges against the accused were provisionally withdrawn in April 2023 due to lack of witnesses.

Nkosi said  no arrests have been made and urged the community to help in bringing the suspects to book. “As the investigation progresses, we cannot rule out the possibilities of adding other charges in the case,” said Nkosi.

Lukhele said the incident was traumatising and everyone who was affected will be given counselling. “I have since beefed up security,” said Lukhele.

Lukhele was an ANC senior researcher in Mpumalanga provincial legislature’s chief whip Fidel Mlambo’s office when he was arrested. He has since been suspended.

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