Cape Town – The family of the late Hilary Gardee has demanded that the Department of Justice and Correctional Services pay a fee of R18 million for allegedly acting “negligently” by releasing Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna on parole.
Nkuna was accused of murdering Hillary.
He was arrested for charges that included armed robbery, murder, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
Hillary went missing on April 29 after a shopping trip to a Spar near her home in Mbombela, Mpumalanga.
The Sowetan Live reported that her body was found by timber plantation workers on May 3, about 60km outside Mbombela, towards Sabie.
Her lifeless body had stab wounds, boot prints and a gunshot wound.
IOL reported on Wednesday that it had seen the letter penned by MM Mashele Attorneys in Pretoria, which insisted that the Department of Justice and Correctional Services “acted negligently” in releasing Nkuna on parole.
Read excerpts from the letter here:
“The above-mentioned parolee (Hlabirwa Rassie Nkuna) violated his parole conditions for a period of almost two years after his release in 2019. The parolee was arrested for an alleged rape offence and subsequently the case was withdrawn. However, your department did not press charges for violating his parole conditions for such a longest time and as such equivalent to escape from lawful custody.
“If the parolee had been charged for abscondment and violation of his parole conditions when he was later arrested for an unrelated charge, he would have been released sometime in 2023, and the late Hillary Gardee would not have been his victim, causing the Gardee family so much grief.
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“All the above family members (9) endured a gruesome five days sleepless nights in an expensive search and rescue effort and praying together all days and nights hopeful of their loved one unharmed but in vain.
“The family spent a fortune on funeral expense from day of body discovery to the aftermath of the funeral including traditional cleansing ceremony and tombstone in the future. The grief and pain suffered and continue to be suffered by the family is unbearable.
“In the circumstances, we are instructed to demand that you should pay a total amount of R18m which amount is in respect of emotional shock and trauma, personal security, and constitutional damages for our clients. The demanded amount herein should be paid within 60 days hereof, into our trust account, the details of which shall be made available on request.”
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Compiled by Junaid Benjamin