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Bheki Cele hints at more arrests in the murder of Hillary Gardee

The funeral service of Hillary Gardee held at Church On The Hill in Kamagugu near Nelspruit.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

The funeral service of Hillary Gardee held at Church On The Hill in Kamagugu near Nelspruit.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 7, 2022

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Vusi Adonis

Mbombela - Hillary Gardee was laid to rest today in Kwamagugu township in Mbombela, where a large contingent of mourners came to bid her farewell.

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Police Minister Bheki Cele, Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane and EFF leader Julius Malema were all in attendance to pay their last respects.

Tributes poured in from family members, friends and neighbours who all described Gardee as a selfless and caring young lady. She was described by Make Nora Fakude of the White River Methodist Church as ambitious and deeply devout.

Hillary’s Father, Godrich Gardee, who is the former secretary general of the EFF, also made a moving tribute to his daughter. He spoke of how he and his family had relentlessly searched for Hillary.

“We searched for you in bushes at Kwamagugu. We went to busy streets with your photo. We went to bushes we were sent to. We called out your name at weird hours of the night, thinking you would answer back and we’d rescue you,” he said.

He went on to describe the anguish he felt when a call came through that their search had come to an end and he was asked to go to the plantation where Hillary’s body was found.

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“I knew what awaits me. My legs could not take me to drive the car. Those volunteers who had come to the rescue mission drove me to your last place of breath. I stumbled and fumbled and nearly fell over you. I greeted you and you never answered back,” he said.

Gardee spoke of the gruesome state of Hillary’s body when she was found. He told all in attendance that a boot mark was visible on her chest. He also described how her body was bruised and that she had been stabbed and shot.

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He said he could see how his 28-year-old daughter’s fists were clenched, clutching to the foliage around her as though she was fighting for her life till the very end.

Police Minister Bheki Cele commended the work that Provincial commissioner Semakaleng Manamela has done on the Gardee case.

He added that there are three other persons of interest in connection with the murder of Hillary Gardee after a suspect had already been arrested and will appear in court on Monday, bringing the total number of suspects to four.

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The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi took to the stage and led the crowd in a rousing rendition of the struggle song "Yimbi lendawo", which speaks of the world being a dark and scary place.

EFF leader, Julius Malema called for the conversation around gender-based violence to change. He said: "We need to stop telling women to be careful, we need to tell men to stop killing women".

Hillary Gardee is survived by her father Godrich Gardee, her uncle Moses Mbatha, her brothers Noble and Rashid Gardee, her sister Shamila Gardee and her daughter Neliswa Mkhwanazi.

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