ANC suspends Hillary Gardee murder suspect Philemon Lukhele without pay
The legislature office says rumours on social media that Lukhele has been dismissed are not true, as he still faces a disciplinary hearing.
The ANC chief whip’s office in the Mpumalanga legislature has suspended its employee Philemon Lukhele without pay.
Lukhele is a research officer in chief whip Fidel Mlombo’s office.
Mlombo says they will wait for Lukhele to return, then haul him into a disciplinary hearing where a decision on whether to dismiss him or not will be taken.
This follows his arrest for 28-year-old Hillary Gardee’s murder. Lukhele was arrested with two other men — Sipho Mkhatshwa and Albert Mduduzi Gama — together they are charged with murder, rape, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and possession of an illegal firearm.
They are currently behind bars and will wait until 9 June 2022 before they appear again at the Nelspruit Magistrates Court for a possible bail application, after abandoning their right to apply for bail during their first appearance on 9 May.
Mlombo said the ANC in the legislature notes the “seriousness” of the charges against Lukhele and “in line with the Code of Conduct a resolution to suspend to Lukhele has been taken”.
He is suspended without pay until the conclusion of an internal investigation, Mlombo said.
On Wednesday this week, the University of Mpumalanga announced it was cutting ties with Lukhele, who was accredited for a student accommodation contract with the institution, pending the high-profile murder case.
Lukhele owns Insika Guest House, which has three properties across Mbombela. The University has advised students to vacate all of Lukhele’s properties as it will no longer pay for their stay at Lukhele’s facilities.
“The University takes these developments very seriously and has, in keeping with its Value of Integrity and for the safety and wellbeing of our students, no other option but to cancel the accreditation of the three (3) Insika Guest House student accommodation facilities with immediate effect,” it said in a statement.
The People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) has also taken a decision to suspend Lukhele. He is a senior member of Pudemo — eSwatini’s biggest opposition party — and was exiled to South Africa for pro-democracy struggles.
Meanwhile, Mkhatshwa’s family has “disowned” him, saying the behaviour of their son has been shocking.
“Mkhatshwa was also served with a protection order at the request of the Mkhatshwa family for his violent behaviour towards occupants of the Mkhatshwa residence in Driekoppies, including housebreaking. There [have] been prior interventions by traditional leaders, with no success,” family spokesman Siya Nkosi said. DM