The ANC has confirmed that Philemon Lukhele has been suspended from his duties as manager of the Mpumalanga Chief Whip’s office – days AFTER he appeared in court, charged with the murder of Hillary Gardee.
Who is Philemon Lukhele? ANC official accused of murdering Hillary Gardee
The 28-year-old victim was raped, shot in the back of the head, and dumped in a field 40km outside of Mbombela. Hillary, the daughter of EFF politician Godrich Gardee, was also an outspoken campaigner against gender-based violence.
Lukhele will remain behind bars for the next four weeks, and the provincial branch of the ANC has decided to distance itself from the murder-accused. Earlier this week, we put a brief fact-file together on the alleged killer:
- Philemon Lukhele is a 39-year-old is an ANC member in Mpumalanga. He has been working for the ANC in the province for over 15 years.
- Lukhele is popularly known as Mhlabundzima in the political space.
- He is an ANC Senior Manager in the Office of the Chief Whip in Mpumalanga.
- Lukhele was reportedly arrested at his guest house in West Acres and it is believed that it is where Hillary Gardee was killed.
- His car was also reportedly used to dump the body.
- Philemon is an exiled Swazi who is a member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).
Suspects claim they were ‘tortured’ in police custody
While in police custody, Lukhele and his two fellow accused – Sipho Mkhatshwa and Mduduzi Nkala – claim to have been subjected to ‘torture’ by the police officers who detained them. The trio are now receiving specialist medical care.
According to the EFF, Lukhele, asked to send condolences to the Gardee family, claiming to know the family personally. This plea was rejected by the party’s top brass, however. The case resumes on 9 June 2022.
JUST IN: The Office of the Chief Whip in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature has resolved to
suspend with immediate effect Mr Philemon Lukhele from his responsibilities in this Office. #HillaryGardee @eNCA
— Pule Letshwiti-Jones (@pule_jones) May 12, 2022