R18 million and an apology: Gardee family sue Lamola for ‘negligent’ release of parolee

Hillary Gardee. Picture: Supplied

Hillary Gardee. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 19, 2022


Pretoria – The family of slain Hillary Gardee are suing government for R18 million “for acting negligently” on the release on parole of the man accused of murdering their daughter.

The letter seen by IOL, drafted by MM Mashele Attorneys in Pretoria, insists the Department of Justice and Correctional Services “acted negligently” in releasing Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna on parole after he was arrested on a long list of serious charges including armed robbery, murder and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Additionally, the department is accused of failing to rein in Nkuna for abscondment of parole management for two years.

“The above-mentioned parolee violated his parole conditions for a period of almost two years after his release in 2019. The parolee was arrested for an alleged rape offence and subsequently the case was withdrawn. However, your department did not press charges for violating his parole conditions for such a longest time and as such equivalent to escape from lawful custody,” the lawyers’ letter read.

“If the parolee had been charged for abscondment and violation of his parole conditions when he was later arrested for an unrelated charge, he would have been released sometime in 2023, and the late Hillary Gardee would not have been his victim, causing the Gardee family so much grief.”

The Pretoria attorneys said their instructions included demanding an apology from the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, and a payment for general damages as a result of the brutal murder of their beloved daughter in the amount of R2 million each for nine family members “whose particulars shall be availed on request”.

“All the above family members endured a gruesome five days sleepless nights in an expensive search and rescue effort and praying together all days and nights hopeful of their loved one unharmed but in vain,” according to the attorneys.

“The family spent a fortune on funeral expense from day of body discovery to the aftermath of the funeral including traditional cleansing ceremony and tombstone in the future. The grief and pain suffered and continue to be suffered by the family is unbearable.

“In the circumstances, we are instructed to demand that you should pay a total amount of R18m which amount is in respect of emotional shock and trauma, personal security, and constitutional damages for our clients. The demanded amount herein should be paid within 60 days hereof, into our trust account, the details of which shall be made available on request.”

Philemon Lukhele, Sipho Mkhatshwa, Mduduzi Gama and Nkuna are behind bars for the murder of the daughter of the former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.

Sunday Independent previously reported Nkuna, who has also appeared in the Delmas Magistrate’s Court charged with killing 27-year-old Nonkululeko Crystal Nkosi and dumping her body in a farm dam before driving off in her Mercedes-Benz, maintains he acted alone when he killed Gardee.

He has reportedly said he did not know Lukhele, Mkhatshwa and Gama, the men who were initially arrested in connection with the murder of Hillary Gardee.