Mbombela (Nelspruit) – The four men accused of the murder of Hillary Gardee have been freed after charges against them were provisionally withdrawn.
On Wednesday, the Nelspruit High Court in Mpumalanga set free all the men accused of the kidnap and brutal murder of the daughter of former Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) secretary-general Godrich Gardee.
The accused included guesthouse owner Philemon Lukhele, security guard Albert Mduduzi Gama, Sipho Mkhatshwa and Rassie Nkune. They all denied any wrongdoing.
Before his arrest, Lukhele was the African National Congress chief whip in the Mpumalanga legislature.
The accused had been facing multiple charges of conspiracy for murder, kidnapping, rape, murder, possession of a firearm, and defeating the ends of justice.
Charges were withdrawn because the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said witnesses were reluctant to come forward.
Commenting on the matter, the EFF said it was “disturbed by the NPA decision to provisionally withdraw charges against the four accused”.
The EFF added, “The sudden disappearance of witnesses should be a cause for concern as it raises the suspicion that they have either been intimidated or have been dealt with in a clandestine manner, which is all too frequent when it comes to whistleblowers in South Africa”.