Cape Town – One of the suspects accused of killing Hillary Gardee was found in possession of a cellphone while behind bars on Tuesday.
Remand Lukhele was subsequently transferred to a maximum section of the Barberton Correctional Centre, following the incident.
It was alleged that the cellphone was found during a raid conducted by correctional officers.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) confirmed in a statement on Friday that Lukhele had been caught with a cellphone in jail on Tuesday, May 24.
Hillary Gardee murder suspect Philemon Lukhele has been “found to be in possession of a mobile phone on 24 May 2022 at the Nelspruit Correctional Centre”, says department of correctional services.
A criminal case has been opened and an investigation is underway. pic.twitter.com/sk5dZUiuvl
— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) May 27, 2022
The statement said that phones were classified as contraband inside correctional facilities which made them unauthorised items.
“An investigation is currently under way as it is critical to ascertain the circumstances under which this mobile phone was smuggled and the people involved,
“A criminal case has also been registered with the South African Police Service, CAS 420/05/2022.
“Remand Lukhele has been transferred to a Maximum Section Barberton Correctional Centre,” read the statement.
The statement came after the EFF member and member of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, Michael Collen Sedibe had called out correctional service spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo on Twitter for his alleged silence on the alleged discovery.
He accused prison warders of smuggling the device in and branded them as corrupt.
@singanxumalo of Correctional Service is so silent about the raid & discovery of a cellphone smuggled by corrupt warders of @RonaldLamola for exclusive use by accused 2, Philemon Lukhele in the murder & kidnapping of #JusticeForHillaryGardee @EFFSouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/tUS4xqtV8D
— collensedibe (@collensedibe) May 24, 2022
Earlier, court papers revealed that the three men suspected to have murdered Hillary, had allegedly been planning it since January this year.
According to EWN, the case charge sheet detailed that between January 22 and April 28, the trio – Sipho Mkhatshwa, Philemon Lukhele and Albert Gama reportedly planned to kill Hillary, an Information Technology (IT) student.
“It (charge sheet) also details how on 29 April, Gardee was forced into a vehicle with a three-year-old child who she was with at a grocery store. The court papers claim that she was raped and then murdered on or about a day later less than 5km from the Nelspruit Plaza where she was last seen,” the report said.
The daughter of former Economic Freedom Fighters’ secretary-general, Godrich Gardee went missing on April 29 after a shopping trip to a Spar near her home in Mbombela, Mpumalanga.
She was found dead in a field outside Mbombela, Mpumalanga on May 3 with a gun wound on her head.
Compiled by Olwethu Mpeshe