#1 Accused Hillary Gardee murder dumped by lawyers

Hillary Gardee murder has been dumped by his legal representatives. The lawyers representing one of the murder suspects in the gruesome murder case of Hillary Gardee, Sipho Mkhatswa (39) have withdrawn from the case in the middle of a bail application at the Nelspruit Magistrate Court on Friday 3 June 2022.

Hillary Gardee murder case cut short in court

Attorney, Sebastian Bhila, and Advocate, Sifiso Silindza, told the Magistrate Edward Horn that they will no-longer be available to represent the accused because of conflict of interest.

“I will request to be excused from the court proceedings in this case, I will no-longer be part of this case. I cannot disclose my reasons as I do not want prejudice myself and the accused,” he told the court.

Murder Accused Confused in Court

Mkhatswa questioned the court, whether he would be compelled to continue with his bail application where his previous legal team left off.

The magistrate warned the accused that everything that was said in court during his cross examination could be used against him should he find another legal representatives who will pursue the case. The court further told him that he is still under oath and is not allowed to be in contact with the witness in this case.

The court postponed the matter to 9 June which is the original date that Mkhatswa and his two co-accused, an ANC comrade Philemon Lukhele and Mduzuzi Gama, were scheduled to make their second appearance in court again after they had all abandoned their applications in May.

During his bail application on Thursday 2 June, Mkhatswa told the court that he was nowhere close to Hillary Gardee at the time of her kidnaping and killing.

Mkhatshwa, in his affidavit, declared he is a father of five children, including a four year old and was due to pay lobola to his fiancé who was heavily pregnant on the day he was arrested.

During his bail application, Mkhatswa gave oral evidence about his whereabouts at the time Gardee was kidnapped on April 29 until when her body was found on May 3.

According to the accused, he spent a week when the state alleged that he kidnapped and killed the victim attending church, buying car batteries, fitting clothes for his upcoming lobola ceremony with his children and partner, preparing his yard with his gardener for the lobola, shopping for food and food, taking his partner to the salon and arranging with a vet a permit for the slaughter of a cow for a lobola ceremony.

“On the day she was reported missing I was really occupied with a lot of things at home, from attending and leading a church service, to fixing a car, going shopping and taking my partner to the salon, there is no way I would have been in Nelspruit,” he said.

“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. I am sure of that. The truth will remain the truth. I was forced by the police to confess everything they wanted me to say,” he said.

He alleged that he was assaulted and tortured while in police custody and has subsequently opened a case with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

“The police tortured me into confessing to the crimes and implicating my co-accuse, I was insulted and assaulted in front of my heavily pregnant wife and children. I did not know what was going on I was scared for my life,” he said.

The state prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni on Thursday spent hours probing murder accused Sipho Mkhatshwa.

The state told Mkhatswa that it has cellphone evidence potentially linking at least one of her three alleged killers to her disappearance and death.