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University of Mpumalanga acts against guest house where Hillary Gardee was allegedly held

Published May 11, 2022


Vusi Adonis

Johannesburg - The University of Mpumalanga has withdrawn the student residence accreditation of Insika Guest Lodge - which is owned by one of the suspects accused of murdering Hillary Gardee.

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The owner of the property, Philemon Lukhele, was one of the suspects arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of the 28-year-old woman.

The statement issued by the University reads in part: “The University takes these developments very seriously and has, in keeping with its Value of Integrity and for the safety and wellbeing of our students, no other option but to cancel the accreditation of the three (3) Insika Guest House student accommodation facilities with immediate effect”.

The properties are all based in Mbombela.

The statement further instructed students to seek alternative accommodation.

“All UMP students staying in these facilities have been informed of the cancellation of the accreditation of these facilities so that they (students) will have to relocate to other accredited accommodation facilities”

The guest house in question is speculated to be the place where Hillary Gardee was held.

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The exiled eSwatini national, Philemon Lukhele is a 39-year-old former SRC leader. He is employed by the ANC as a senior researcher in the office of the Chief Whip in Mpumalanga.

The office of the ANC Chief Whip in Mpumalanga released a statement condemning the alleged actions of Lukhele and his two co-accused.

The statement reads: “This office stands for the protection of women, young girls and boys. It condemns in the strongest terms any acts of violence perpetrated against the vulnerable.”

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Lukhele, who is a member of Pudemo, the pro-democracy opposition party in eSwatini, has had his membership suspended by Pudemo.

Secretary-General of Pudemo, Wandile Dludlu said: “We can only give space and opportunity to all investigation team and law enforcement agencies which are engaged in this case with the speed it deserves and we are following, we hope the truth will come out and motive of this heinous crime that Pudemo condemns with strongest terms, even (if) it’s coming from our own.”

The three suspects arrested in connection with Hillary’s murder appeared in the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

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Sipho Lawrence Mkatshwa, Mduzuzi Gama and Lukhele, are charged with murder, rape, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and possession of illegal firearms.

The State requested the accused be denied bail because of the seriousness of the crime.

All three abandoned their bail application. The matter has been postponed until June 9.

Gardee, 28, was buried on Saturday, May 7.

Gardee was reported missing on Friday, April 29. She was reportedly last seen leaving a shopping complex in Mbombela at approximately 5.30 pm.

A group of passers-by who were making their way to work, found her body in a field about 40km outside Mbombela on Tuesday.

An autopsy revealed Gardee was shot in the back of the head and stabbed multiple times.

The motive for her killing is still unknown.

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