South Africa


University of Mpumalanga cancels student accommodation accreditation of the guesthouse of Hillary Gardee’s alleged murderer

Sipho Gama, Albert Mkhatshwa, and Philemon Lukhele appear in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court on 9 May 2022 for the alleged kidnapping and murder of Hillary Gardee in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. (Photo: Supplied)

Suspect Philemon Lukhele owns several student accommodation properties which the university has asked students to vacate.

Philemon Lukhele had a contract with the University of Mpumalanga to accommodate students in three separate guesthouse-cum-student lodge facilities across Mbombela.

Now the university has announced it has cancelled its student accommodation accreditation contract following Lukhele’s arrest in connection with the murder of Hillary Gardee — the daughter of EFF politician Godrich Gardee.

Lukhele owns the Insika Guest House student accommodation in Mbombela, which has three properties housing students for the University of Mpumalanga.

Police believe Hillary Gardee was held at the guest house before her murder.

Students had been advised to vacate all of Lukhele’s properties as the university will no longer pay Lukhele for their stay at his facilities.

Lukhele, a senior member of Eswatini’s biggest opposition party, the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), was arrested with two other men. Pudemo has also taken a decision to suspend Lukhele’s membership pending the case.

Pudemo said the party is opposed to gender-based violence and had to prove this by cutting off ties with Lukhele.

University management also said they took this decision to cut the accreditation contract with Lukhele because they take the issue seriously and have to act in keeping with their values of integrity.

Hillary was the daughter of EFF senior leader and lawyer Godrich Gardee, who has also offered a “handsome reward” to anyone who can come forward and assist police with information concerning how his 28-year-old daughter was abducted while shopping at the Nelspruit Plaza Spar on Friday 29 April 2022.

She was found dead on Tuesday 3 May 2022 in a Mbombela forest plantation — just 500 metres from the R532 road connecting Mbombela and Sabie.

Lukhele and the two other men face numerous charges including kidnapping, rape and murder. DM



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