Hillary Gardee: The sangoma, the muti and more bodies

Hillary Gardee

Hillary Gardee

Published May 15, 2022


Johannesburg - Investigations into the murder of Hillary Gardee have uncovered sensational claims of killings for muti, poisoning and people disappearing.

This comes as police are considering adding more charges against the suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Gardee, who was the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.

Today, the Sunday Independent reveals that Sipho Mkhatshwa, the first accused in the case, will be investigated for attempted murder. He allegedly tried to sell two albino children from his fiancée's previous marriage for R2 million for muti to an Eswatini national.

Mkhatshwa was arrested after consulting a sangoma from Nkomazi, Mpumalanga, for cleansing after Gardee's murder. Police sources claim Mkhatshwa allegedly told the sangoma that he had killed someone.

A senior police officer from Mpumalanga claims the sangoma added that Mkhatshwa offered one of the albino children as payment for his cleansing, but the traditional healer refused.

The Sangoma allegedly phoned the police after Mkhatshwa reportedly failed to pay him for the cleansing.

"The sangoma claims Mkhatshwa has been consulting with him for years, and he has been giving him muti for different things besides cleansing him," a source close to the case said.

Mkhatshwa is also to be investigated for the murder of his former wife, Cecelia Sibiya, who died in 2019 after allegedly being poisoned. Police suspect that Mkhatshwa might have had a hand in her death, as the couple was divorcing.

The Sangoma reportedly told the police that Mkhatshwa allegedly came for cleansing after his wife died. Mkhatshwa was supposed to get married last week to his fiancée, the mother of the albino children.

"We are following a strong lead on the issue of the albino children, but we can confirm that they were to be sold for R2-million so they can be killed and used for muti," said a police officer, who asked not to be named as he isn't allowed to speak to the media.

Philemon Lukhele, an Eswatini national in exile in South Africa for years, is accused number two in the case and was arrested after Mkhatshwa took police to his guest house in Nelspruit. He allegedly claimed that 28-year-old Gardee was gang-raped and shot there on April 29, before she was dumped in bushes 45 kilometres from Nelspruit.

"Police are following allegations that a security guard who used to work at the guest house was also killed a few weeks before Gardee for allegedly seeing something he wasn't supposed to see," the officer added.

There are allegations that Lukhele's guest house was often used for sex orgies.

"The girls are students around Nelspruit, and it is suspected that they were either drugged or intoxicated before the sex orgies."

The three suspects arrested with the killing of Hillary Gardee appeared in the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Oupa Mokoean / African News Agency / ANA

Lukhele was suspended this week by the Mpumalanga government as he was working in the chief whip's office. The University of Mpumalanga this week cancelled the accommodation for 54 students who were staying at three of Lukhele's guest houses.

It is believed that Gardee's IT company, LZL Distributors, was responsible for assisting the students with their WiFi settings and solutions.

Gardee's business partner, Lwazi Khoza, yesterday confirmed that their company has been responsible for the students' WiFi for more than a year.

"We have been doing this for one year and five months in five different guest houses, and it was Hillary who attended to any of the IT problems in those properties," Khoza said.

He added that they dealt directly with the property owners, not the university. Hillary's boyfriend, Muxe Zitha, said he feared for his life after allegedly being "kidnapped and tortured by two policemen on a farm outside Nelspruit".

"I am feeling better now, but the doctor suggested that I see a specialist because I suspect I have internal injuries."

When the three suspects appeared in court this week, they claimed that they were also tortured. The third suspect in the case is Albert Mduduzi Gama, a bouncer and security guard who is believed to have links with Lukhele.

Police yesterday denied reports that a Nigerian national, rumoured to be Hillary's ex-boyfriend, was also arrested as the fourth suspect.

"There is no Nigerian national arrested or wanted in connection with the murder of Hillary," provincial police spokesperson Levy Mohlala said yesterday.

Mohlala confirmed that more charges might be added to those the three suspects are facing if police are happy with the new evidence leading to the new cases.

Police, however, confirmed that a 59-year-old man approached them this week and claimed that he was shot and left for dead by someone he believed was Mkhatshwa in 2017. The man told the publication yesterday that he had a heated argument with Mkhatshwa days before being shot. He said he was shot once in the head inside his garage.

"Mkhatshwa came to my house and claimed that my wife owed him an undisclosed amount of money, and I asked him how he borrowed from my wife without my knowledge. We argued before he threatened to shoot me."

The man said days later, on March 24, 2017, he was shot in the head inside his garage.

"Two men, wearing balaclavas and gloves, cornered me inside my garage, shot me once in the head, and ran away thinking I was dead. Police refused to arrest Sipho because they said my assailants were wearing balaclavas, and it was going to be difficult to prove that Mkhatshwa was one of them," he said.

The accused’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Sunday Independent