- A man was arrested on Friday for the murder of Hillary Gardee, the daughter of former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee.
- Police said they had arrested him in Schoemansdal and were confident they had the right person.
- The news came on the eve of Hillary’s funeral on Saturday.
A 39-year-old man was arrested in Schoemansdal on Friday morning in connection with the murder of Hillary Gardee in Mbombela.
“What we want to say is, we did effect one arrest today,” said Mpumalanga police commissioner Semakaleng Daphney Manamela late on Friday night.
“We are cracking this case.”
According to police spokesperson Colonel Donald Mdhluli, Schoemansdal is in the Nkomazi area in Mpumalanga.
Manamela made the announcement of the arrest outside the Gardee home in Mpumalanga after first going inside to inform the family privately.
She would also not be drawn on reports that a guest house in West Acres in Mbombela had been raided, or speculation that Hillary may have been shot there and her body taken elsewhere.
The man will appear in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
The commissioner spoke of “perpetrators” so it was possible that more arrests could be made.
Manamela said the police did not sleep the day Hillary’s body was found with a bullet wound to the head and were determined to find those responsible.
She said when the police were “so quiet”, they were verifying information, and pounced on Friday morning.
Manamela said they did not want to bombard the Gardee family with phone calls containing no concrete information. She was responding to the EFF’s frustrations about the family not getting feedback from police.
Hillary went missing last Friday. She was last seen at a Spar near her home in Mbombela, and an urgent message was posted on social media asking for help to find her.
Her child had been dropped off in KaMagugu and was found walking around by residents, who made sure she got home safely.
Hillary was found dead in a timber plantation outside Mbombela on Tuesday morning.
Asked whether Hillary may have been killed elsewhere, Manamela would only say: “The body was found in the plantation, but the place where the shooting took place is still being investigated.”
She said the police were sure that they had the right person.
‘The family is in pain’
Asked how the Gardee family took the news, she said: “Look, the family is upset, the family is in pain.”
She would not say if the man was known to the family, or what the motive was.
EFF and family spokesperson Sinawo Thambo commended the police for the arrest. This came after the EFF earlier lambasted them for apparently missing that she had been shot, and not keeping the family updated.
“As the family, we welcome the arrest. And we are thankful that the police were able to meet their own target of informing us of something concrete within 72 hours,” he said.
“It’s a commitment that must be commended.”
He said Godrich Gardee just wanted to know why had happened to his daughter.
He would have loved to have one opportunity, even if it is to speak through a holding cell or speak through a window, to ask this individual why he [killed his] daughter. He wanted that opportunity… The family is extremely pained. A father naturally tries and wants to understand what would be the logic for their own daughter being killed (sic). It’s a burden he has to bear.
He said they would allow the police to conduct their investigation, and added that they had been assured that the person would be brought to book.
“He has been positively linked to the crime. They didn’t come here to gossip with us. So we appreciate their effort.”
Hillary’s funeral will be held at the Church on the Hill in KaMagugu on Saturday.