Hillary Gardee murder: Fifth suspect linked to the case released without appearing in court

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Hillary Gardee’s body was found in a timber plantation.
Hillary Gardee’s body was found in a timber plantation.
PHOTO: Facebook
  • The fifth suspect linked to the kidnapping, rape and murder of Hillary Gardee has been temporarily set free.
  • The police were instructed to get their house in order before the man is brought before court.
  • He was allegedly found to have used Gardee's cellphone after she was killed.

The fifth person arrested after being linked to the kidnapping, rape and murder of Hillary Gardee has been set free.

The man, who can't be named, was freed from the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court on Wednesday without appearing before a presiding officer. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) ordered the man to be released because it could not prosecute him.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala told journalists that the NPA had instructed the police to acquire a statement relating to a cellphone and laptop stolen at the time of Gardee's disappearance.  

"We have the details of the suspect," Mohlala said, confirming that the suspect was released.

"We know where he stays. It won't be difficult for us to bring him to court after obtaining the outstanding statement. The statement will be obtained in a short period. We need to comply with the instruction and continue our investigation," Mohlala said.

The man was taken in for questioning on Sunday and arrested on Tuesday.

"By linking him to the case, it means he was involved in the case. Hillary's cellphone number was used by the suspect immediately after she was killed. He is knowledgeable about the incident. He might know where he obtained the two gadgets from."

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According to Mohlala, police do not have Gardee's cellphone and laptop.

"We tracked the usage of the deceased's cellphone number. That information assisted us in linking the fifth suspect," said Mohlala, who said the investigating officer would update the Gardee family on the latest developments.

Mohlala concluded that the fourth suspect, Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna, 36, is expected to appear in the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court on 23 August.

Nkuna allegedly confessed to killing Gardee. He was arrested last week after being on the run for allegedly killing three other women in Mpumalanga, including sisters Pretty and Marcia Mazibuko. He has since appeared in the Kanyamazane Magistrate's Court in connection with their murders.

READ | 'They were killed for nothing' - grief-stricken mom of slain Mazibuko sisters

Nkuna also appeared in the Delmas Magistrate's Court for allegedly killing Nonkululeko Nkosi. It is alleged that after his arrest, Nkuna revealed to the police that he sold Gardee's gadgets to the fifth suspect.

Nkuna is expected back in court in Delmas on 22 August.

The three suspects first arrested in connection to Gardee's murder have also appeared in court.

Albert Gama and Philemon Lukhele are expected to continue with their bail application on Thursday. Sipho Mkhatshwa has since been denied bail.

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