Hillary Gardee murder: 'Alleged killer didn't disclose all pending cases, convictions'

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Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna is accused of murder.
Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna is accused of murder.
Supplied by Mpumalanga SAPS
  • A man who allegedly confessed to killing Hillary Gardee faces multiple charges of murder.
  • It is alleged that Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna didn't disclose all his previous convictions.
  • Nkuna was sought for allegedly killing three women in Mpumalanga between May and August.

The man who allegedly confessed to killing Hillary Gardee faces multiple charges of murder, including the killing of two sisters. 

News24 understands that Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna, 36, apparently confessed to the Mpumalanga police during his arrest last week and said he fired the fatal shot that killed Gardee, the daughter of EFF politician Godrich Gardee.

Nkuna made his first appearance in the packed Delmas Magistrate's Court on Monday. He is facing charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, possession of an unlicenced firearm and ammunition.

READ | Hillary Gardee murder: Exasperated family heads to court to have case transferred to Hawks

Nkuna was on the police's wanted list for allegedly killing three women in Mpumalanga. 

He was caught in KwaThema, Springs, on 11 August.

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He was wanted for allegedly killing 27-year-old Nonkululeko Crystal Nkosi. It's understood the two knew each other.

Nkosi was allegedly choked and robbed of her Mercedes-Benz by Nkuna on 6 August in Sundra, Mpumalanga.

She succumbed to her injuries the following day in hospital, but before she died, she identified Nkuna as her alleged attacker.

Nkuna was also wanted for killing two sisters, Pretty Mazibuko, 42, and Marcia Mazibuko, 43, on 15 May in Kanyamazane outside Nelspruit.

Pretty Mazibuko was a police sergeant stationed at Ngondwana Police Station.

READ | Eswatini denies 'wild and empty allegations' that King Mswati orchestrated Hillary Gardee's murder

During his appearance in the Delmas Magistrate's Court, Nkuna claimed that he only had one previous conviction.

His lawyer, Jabulani Mphethe, told Magistrate SS Dlamini that his client was convicted and sentenced to four years in 2013 in Gauteng for being in possession of an unlicenced firearm.

Nkuna also claimed that he didn't have any pending cases against him.

Prosecutor Gustav Schultz then asked Dlamini to warn Nkuna that he would be punished if he did not reveal all his previous convictions and pending cases.

Schultz added that Nkuna was wanted for murder cases in Mpumalanga.

"There is also a warrant for his arrest," said Schultz.

The magistrate warned Nkuna to be honest and reveal all his previous convictions and pending cases.

Dlamini warned Nkuna:

If not so, you could be sentenced to a prison term or subjected to a fine.

Schultz later asked for a postponement to gather all Nkuna's pending cases and previous convictions.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala told News24 that Nkuna was released on parole in February after being sentenced for robbery.

It is alleged that on 15 May in Kanyamazane, Nkuna allegedly shot dead the Mazibuko sisters.

In an earlier statement released by Mohlala, it was claimed that Nkuna was dating Marcia.

"An argument between the suspect and his female companion is said to have broken out where the woman's sister (Pretty) and two other females reportedly intervened. 

"It is said that the man returned armed with a firearm. He allegedly shot Marcia inside a BMW as she attempted to flee for her life, the same car that the suspect earlier drove. 

"The suspect then went inside the house and shot at Pretty before fleeing the scene. The other two females escaped unharmed," Mohlala said.

The two sisters were certified dead on arrival at the nearby clinic.

The incident angered the Mpumalanga provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela.

"Condolences to the family of the late siblings who were brutally killed. As management of the police, we take a firm stance against any form of gender-based violence," Manamela said at the time.

She added:

Those involved in these practices of GBV will be dealt with harshly. We trust that the suspects will soon be brought to book.

Nkuna is expected to appear in the Kanyamazane Magistrate's Court on Tuesday in connection with the murders of the Mazibuko sisters.

He is also expected to join Philemon Lukhele, Albert Gama and Sipho Makhatshwa in the dock in the Hillary Gardee murder case.

Gardee was last seen on 29 April at the Nelspruit Plaza at around 17:30.

Her body was found a week later with a bullet wound to the head in a timber plantation, about 40km outside the town.

Nkuna will also appear again in the Delmas Magistrate's Court on 22 August.

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