Hillary Gardee's family claims R18 million in damages from correctional services department

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The Correctional Services Ministry is preparing a response to a demand by nine members of the Gardee family, each claiming R2 million in damages from the Department of Correctional Services, over the murder of Hillary Gardee.
The Correctional Services Ministry is preparing a response to a demand by nine members of the Gardee family, each claiming R2 million in damages from the Department of Correctional Services, over the murder of Hillary Gardee.
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  • Nine members of the Gardee family are each claiming R2 million in damages from the Department of Correctional Services.
  • They claim that the department had failed to detain one of Hillary Gardee's alleged murderers for parole violations.
  • The family has also demanded an apology from Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

The correctional services ministry is preparing a response to a demand by nine members of the Gardee family, each claiming R2 million in damages from the Department of Correctional Services, over the murder of Hillary Gardee.

The family is also demanding an apology from Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

A letter of demand for R18 million was sent to Lamola on Tuesday, in which family lawyer Makhakheni Mashele said the Department of Correctional Services had failed to keep one of the men accused of murdering Hillary Gardee behind bars.

Lamola's spokesperson Chrispin Piri said: "The Ministry is aware of the correspondence from the legal representatives of Mr Gardee. The Department of Correctional Services will duly attend to the allegations made in the letter of demand and respond accordingly through the State Attorney as per [the] State Liability Amendment Act."

Hillary Gardee was last seen on 29 April in Mbombela, before her body was found in a timber plantation outside the city on 3 May.

READ | Hillary Gardee murder case: Two accused bring fresh bail applications

One of the men accused of her murder, Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna, who was released from prison in 2019, had violated his parole conditions for almost two years, said Mashele.

It is alleged that Nkuna confessed to the police that he killed Gardee.

In his letter to Lamola, Mashele said Nkuna had been linked to 10 criminal cases and had been arrested in one of those cases, but that charges had later been withdrawn.

The letter reads:

If the parolee had been charged for abscondment and violation of his parole conditions when he was later arrested and released for an unrelated charge, he would have been released sometime in 2023, and the late Hillary Gardee would not have been his victim, causing the Gardee family so much grief.

The damages, with payment demanded in 60 days, were to cover pain, suffering, trauma and shock, as well as the costs of the funeral, said the letter.

"[The] family members endured a gruesome five days [of] sleepless nights in an expensive search and rescue effort, and praying together all days and nights, hopeful for the return of their loved one unharmed, but in vain.

"The grief and pain suffered and continue to be suffered by the family is unbearable."

Nkuna's three co-accused are Albert Gama, Philemon Lukhele and Sipho Mkhatshwa. They face charges of murder, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice, and possession of an unlicenced firearm and ammunition.

READ | Hillary Gardee murder: NPA to hand over indictment after completion of bail bid by one of the accused

Nkuna also faces two murder charges in the Kanyamazane Magistrate's Court and another murder case in the Delmas Magistrate's Court.

It is alleged that, on 15 May, Nkuna shot and killed Marcia Mazibuko and her sister, Pretty Mazibuko, in Kanyamazane. 

Also, on 6 August, Nkuna allegedly tortured and choked Nonkululeko Crystal Nkosi, of Witbank. Nkosi succumbed to her injuries, but reportedly identified Nkuna as her attacker before she died.


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