One-Time Suspect in Hillary Gardee Murder Handed Two-Life Sentences For Murdering Lover, Sister

One of the four men who were once accused of killing IT entrepreneur Hillary Gardee has been given two life sentences for killing two Mpumalanga sisters.  Hlabirwa Rassie Nkune was sentenced in the Mbombela High Court this afternoon after being found guilty of fatally shooting and killing Sergeant Marcia Mazibuko and Pretty Mazibuko following a lover’s quarrel last year May.

“The sentence follows an incident that happened on 15 May 2022 where the suspect arrived at his girlfriend’s place, driving a blue BMW. The accused had a quarrel with his girlfriend Sargeant Marcia Mazibuko and took out a firearm. 

“Sargeant Mazibuko ran out of the house and got into the accused’s vehicle.The accused followed her and shot at her multiple times through the car window. The accused then ran back into the house where he shot Pretty Mazibuko, who was the police officer’s sister. The accused fled the scene. The two victims were taken to the clinic, where they were both pronounced dead,” said Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale.

Mogale said Nkune (36) was arrested on August 15 around the Springs area in Gauteng for a separate murder case involving another woman, who was killed in Sundra, Mpumalanga nine days before. Following his arrest, Nkune confessed to the three murders and also told police he was the one who killed Gardee.

EFF members march outside the Mpumalanga High Court in support of Hillary Gardee. Hlabirwa Rassie Nkune, 36, Sipho Mkhatshwa, 39, Philemon Lukhele, 47, and Albert Gama, 52 were charged with the murder of entrepreneur before the charges were provisionally withdrawn. Nkune has now been found guilty of murdering Mpumalanga sisters, Sergeant Marcia Mazibuko and Pretty Mazibuko following a lover’s quarrel last year May.

His confession to killing Gardee threw the police case into a tailspin because three other men had already been arrested and charged with her rape and murder. Nkune had claimed that he had acted alone and did not know the three others, Sipho Mkhatshwa, 39, Philemon Lukhele, 47, and Albert Gama, 52.

This year, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) told the Mbombela High Court that they were provisionally withdrawing the charges against all four men because witnesses against the three men could not be traced.

Gardee’s family, especially her father Godrich Gardee, the former EFF secretary general, was left distraught as they were looking forward to the beginning of the trial against the accused when the NPA dropped the withdrawal bombshell in court.

The victim went missing on April 29 last year. Family members and police officers confirmed that Hillary (28), who was carrying a shopping bag and a laptop bag, had been abducted after her adopted 3-year-old daughter told them that she saw her mother fighting.

This resulted in Police Minister Bheki Cele and a delegation of high-profile investigators descending on Gardee’s home in Mbombela, there making promises to swiftly trace and arrest the suspects. On May 3, Hillary’s body was discovered at a plantation, 35 minutes away from her home.

Accused number 1, Mkhatshwa (39), who worked as an Integrated Development Plan facilitator in the City of Ekurhuleni’s strategy and corporate planning department, was arrested on May 6 after allegedly consulting a sangoma to cleanse him from a spiritual dark cloud linked to killing a person.

The sangoma reportedly blew the whistle, which led to Mkhatshwa’s arrest, and later that of ANC big shot, Lukhele, and security guard, Gama. The NPA stated that it still hoped to reinstate the charges once the witnesses come forward.



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