Hillary Gardee murder: Alleged killer fears for his life if imprisoned in Mpumalanga

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Rassie Nkuna
Rassie Nkuna
  • An alleged Mpumalanga murderer was denied permission to be kept in a Gauteng prison.
  • Rassie Hlabirwa Nkuna said his life would be in danger in a prison in Mpumalanga.
  • He allegedly confessed to killing Hillary Gardee.

A man, who allegedly confessed to murdering Hillary Gardee, was dealt a blow when his plea to be transferred to a Gauteng prison fell on deaf ears.

Rassie Hlabirwa Nkuna, 36, pleaded with the magistrate, SS Dlamini, not to be kept in a prison in Mpumalanga.

Nkuna appeared in the packed Delmas Magistrate's Court on Monday facing charges of murder, armed robbery and the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

His lawyer, Jabulani Maphethe, told the court that Nkuna feared for his life. 

"He doesn't feel safe in a Mpumalanga prison because of certain information he disclosed to the police. The information he gave the police will place his life in danger.

"He believes his life will be in danger if kept in prison in Mpumalanga. I plead that my client be kept at Modderbee Prison in Gauteng," said Maphethe.

The lawyer added that his client would not be applying for bail.

READ Hillary Gardee murder: 'We are not under political pressure to prosecute' - NPA

The prosecutor, Gustav Schult, argued that Nkuna should be kept at Witbank Prison because he had other pending cases in the province.

"There is another warrant of arrest for murder against Nkuna in the province. He might be charged with other murder cases in Mpumalanga. He should be kept in the Witbank Prison," argued Schult.

Dlamini ordered Nkuna to be kept at Witbank Prison.

Allegations are that, on 6 August, Nkuna lured Nonkululeko Crystal Nkosi, of Witbank, to Sundra, by using social media.

He allegedly threatened Nkosi with a firearm, strangled her, and threw her in a ditch.

He is alleged to have fled with Nkosi's Mercedes Benz, which was later found abandoned in Sundra.

Nkosi succumbed to her injuries the following day in hospital.

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

The State alleges that Nkosi's murder was premeditated, and that Nkuna pretended to be in a love relationship with her. 

Nkuna was arrested on 11 August in KwaThema, Springs, following an investigation by the police.

During his arrest, he was allegedly found in possession of a loaded CZ pistol.

News24 understands that, during his interrogation by the police, Nkuna confessed to having been the one who pulled the trigger that ended Hillary's life.

Nkuna is expected back in court on 22 August.

Meanwhile, two other men involved in Hillary's murder - Philemon Lukhele, 47, and Albert Gama, 52 - are expected to bring a formal bail application in the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

The two, together with Sipho Mkhatshwa, 37, are accused of kidnapping and killing Hillary earlier this year.

Mkhatshwa has already been denied bail.

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