The trial of four men accused of the rape, kidnapping, and murder of Hillary Gardee is set to begin today in the Mbombela High Court . Gardee’s body was discovered abandoned outside Mbombela in May last year, several days after she was reported missing. The four suspects, Philemon Lukhele, Albert Mduduzi Gama, Hlabirwa Rassie Nkune, and Sipho Mkhatshwa, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, rape, kidnapping, and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition .
The suspects, aged between 39 and 52, were arrested in connection with Gardee’s murder following a series of events that included a consultation for a cleansing ritual with a sangoma and a confession statement . During their court appearances, the suspects abandoned their bail application .
Public outrage has surrounded the case, with crowds gathering outside the courthouse during the suspects’ appearances, demanding justice for Hillary Gardee and calling for no bail for the accused . The trial is expected to bring further attention to issues of gender-based violence and the need for stronger protections for women and girls.
As the trial begins, the public eagerly awaits the outcome and hopes for justice to be served in the tragic case of Hillary Gardee.