Hillary Gardee’s suspects claim they were tortured in custody after they were arrested on Friday and the past weekend respectively.
The three suspects in connection with the 28-year-old Hillary Gardee told the court that they were tortured in custody during their detention.
The trio Sipho Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Mduduzi Gama appeared at the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court ob Monday 9 May 2022.
All three suspects have abandoned their bail applications.
The of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)’s former secretary-general, and attorney Godrich Gardee, went missing last month and her body was discovered near Sabbie in Mpumalanga.
The suspects have been charged with six chargies namely, rape, conspiracy to commit murder, murder, kidnapping, possession of an unlicensed firearm and defeating the ends of justice.
The court ruled that they be held at the Nelspruit Prison where they will receive medical attention.
Meanwhile, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) who was also in attendance at the court said it will stand behind the family of Hillary Gardee.
It is understood that one of the suspects Philmon Lukhele is a member of PUDEMO while also employed at the Mpumalanga legislature.
The movement’s President Mlungisi Makhanya said they have a good and a health relationship with the EFF and they will continue to support the party and the family as the case developes.
Makhanya adds that Lukhele is suspended from the organisation with immediate effect.
“We are going to suspend his membership in the organisation, until such time that it is clear what happened. Most importantly, we call for justice to be done and we call for the maximum possible sentence to be handed to all those involved in this grusome crime,” said Makhanya.
During the court proceedings, the Gardee family were represented by a legal team in their absentia.
Furthermore the African National Congress (ANC) in Mpumalanga welcomed the arrested of the suspects involved in the Hillary Gardee kidnapping and murder.
“We commend the work of the South African Police Service (SAPS), and call on them and the judiciary to expedite this case and bring it to its logical conclusion to ensure that the women of South African and the Gardee family get justice. The expeditious conclusion of this case will play a huge role in improving the confidence of the public in state organs responsible for fighting Gender Based Violence (GBV).”
In a statement, the ANC said research indicate that there are many cases that go unreported by violated women because of low levels of confidence in the organs responsible for fighting GBV.
“These low levels of trust allow many perpetrators of GBV not to be brought to book and continue to brutalise women and institutionalise this cruel act of GBV in society. We want to thank the people of South Africa for the support they have given the Gardee family in these difficult times and call on all justice loving South,” added the orgaisation.
Outside court the EFF National Chairperson Veronica Mente told supporters who were gathered outside the that the justice system needs to be challenged.
She said while listening to the court proceedings, nothing was said about the victim, Hillary Gardee but only about the suspects.
“We heard the suspects asking to get medical attention. Why does the court have to care about their medical attention when they managed to kill an innocent child,” asked Mente.
She further applauded the supporters who were chanting outside the court for their strength and support durring the court proceedings.
“We are grateful for everyone who came in support of the family. This is a really hard time for the Gardee family and the EFF. We hope and believe that you will be here again on the next apperance,” she added.
The suspects had been remanded in custody until the 9th of June 2022 for further investigation.
Some of the evidence to be presented in court involve, cellphone reports, vidoe footages in and around Nelspruit.