Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane
Pretoria - Some Mpumalanga ANC members were in shock after learning that one of their comrades, a former Wits SRC president, had allegedly been linked to the murder of Hillary Gardee, the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.
In messages posted on the governing party’s WhatsApp groups, they apparently defended the 39-year-old suspect, who has been arrested in connection with the abduction and subsequent murder of Gardee, that has sent shock waves through the country.
The man, described as an employee of the ANC caucus in the province and owner of student properties in Mbombela, was arrested in Schoemansdal on Friday.
Police said he was the prime suspect in Hillary Gardee’s murder, and is one of three suspects arrested by the police since Friday.
The man, who will only be named when he appears in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court today, was arrested along with two others following the brutal killing of the 28-year-old IT graduate and businesswoman.
One of the chain messages circulating on ANC WhatsApp groups – and seen by the Pretoria News – defended the 39-year-old man. The message said the suspect could not have killed Hillary, because he was a highly educated political researcher based at the Mpumalanga Legislature and held the position of director.
“He runs four student houses, which he also uses (as a) guest house during school holidays. He has about five work vehicles used by his staff, including a bus for students. You see it’s not like a guy with one car … Or one house. It would be difficult for him to account for each car and each house … Who is there and what are they doing? Over and above (that) he is extremely busy with (political work) and his job,” reads the message trending on ANC WhatsApp groups.
The chain message continued to describe the man as being generous with his property.
“And I know he does things very informally. The whole ANC Youth League are (sic) usually drinking at his house. The house is forever full of ANC people drinking with chicks, well into the night. So he runs a fluid set up and he is usually drunk himself. But very effective and popular in his work, especially (with) campaigning and research,” reads the message.
It is understood that two of the man’s properties have been officially approved to be rented out to University of Mpumalanga students.
Hillary was buried at a high-profile funeral in her home town of Kamagugu in Mbombela on Saturday. It was attended by prominent politicians including EFF commander Julius Malema, and Police Minister Bheki Cele.
The suspects are expected to appear in court today.