ANC chief whip suspends Gardee murder suspect

Kamogelo Olaitan

The office of the ANC Chief Whip in Mpumalanga has suspended Philemon Lukhele, the prime suspect in the murder of Hillary Gardee.

Lukhele, a senior research manager for the ANC’s provincial chief whip, has been suspended without pay pending a disciplinary hearing.

Chief Whip Fidel Mlombo told eNCA that he went to the Nelspruit correctional services, where Lukhele is being held in custody, and handed him a suspension letter.

Mlombi said Lukhele’s arrest has brought his office into disrepute, adding that the charges against the suspect fall within the highest level of seriousness of their code of conduct.

“His suspension is pending a disciplinary hearing which will be held immediately when he receives bail if he receives bail,” Mlombo said.

Lukhele was arrested along with two other suspects: Sipho Lawrence Mkhatshwa, 39, and Albert Gama, 52.

The trio appeared briefly in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Monday. They have not yet pleaded to their charges and have abandoned applying for bail. Their case was postponed to 9 June for further police investigations.

They are facing six charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, murder, rape, possession of an unlicensed firearm, and defeating the ends of justice.