- A man who allegedly confessed to the Hillary Gardee murder case has appeared in the Mbombela Magistrate's Court.
- Rassie Nkune was charged with her murder.
- The National Prosecuting Authority believes police have arrested the right person.
The man who allegedly confessed to murdering Hillary Gardee appeared in the Mbombela Magistrate's Court on seven charges.
Rassie Hlabirwa Nkune, initially named as Nkuna, briefly appeared while police and correctional services warders guarded him.
Dressed in a grey tracksuit with black and white sneakers, he listened to the rights Magistrate Martin Morris informed him of.
Nkune chose Legal Aid representation.
He is in custody after allegedly violating parole conditions in another matter.
He told the court that he had a previous conviction for possession of an unlicensed firearm, which dates back to 2015 in Benoni.
Nkune claimed he was sentenced to four years of correctional supervision.
However, News24 established that he was sentenced in the Benoni Magistrate's Court in 2015 to eight years behind bars for possession of an unlicensed firearm, four of which were suspended.
He told Morris that he was in custody for a murder case in the Kanyamazane Magistrate's Court and for another murder case in the Delmas Magistrate's Court.
He did not intend to lodge a bail application, the court heard.
Morris told Nkune that in the Mbombela case, he faced charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, rape, defeating the ends of justice, and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
The National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Mpumalanga spokesperson, Monica Nyuswa, said the State had a strong case against Nkune.
"We studied the docket and found enough evidence linking Nkune with the offence committed. There is sufficient evidence. There is sufficient information revealing how the accused is linked to the case.
"I am not going to divulge contents of the docket. We have more evidence linking him to the other three suspects who have repeatedly appeared in court," Nyuswa said. Nyuswa added that the NPA was not under any political pressure from EFF.
"The NPA is treating this matter like all others brought to its attention. We are guided by the evidence provided to us by the police. The relationship between the NPA and the investigating officer is good. Before Nkune was brought to court, the docket was brought to the NPA, which led to this case enrolled," Nyuswa said.
It is alleged on 15 May, Nkune killed Marcia Mazibuko and Pretty Mazibuko in Kanyamazane.
On 6 August, he allegedly used social media to lure Nonkululeko Crystal Nkosi to Sundra. He allegedly tortured and strangled her, before dumping her in a ditch. Nkune later fled in her Mercedes-Benz, which was later abandoned, it is alleged.
Nkosi died in hospital after pointing Nkune out as her attacker.
Nkune was arrested on 11 August in KwaThema, Springs.
During his arrest, he allegedly confessed to Gardee's murder.
Meanwhile, Philemon Lukhele, Albert Gama and Sipho Mkhatshwa have appeared in court on numerous occasions for Gardee's murder.
Mkhatshwa was denied bail. The bail application by Gama and Lukhele is expected to resume on 2 September.