The Pretoria High Court has ordered the South African Police Service (Saps) to prioritise the investigation into the murder of Hillary Gardee.
The ruling comes after Gardee’s family brought an urgent application in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Thursday to compel the police as well as Police Minister Bheki Cele to prioritise the investigation.
According to Sinawo Tambo, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the family’s spokesperson, the court also ordered that a multidisciplinary team comprising Saps officials, crime intelligence and Hawks officers be appointed to “investigate, inspect, search and collect evidence”.
The team has further been directed to keep the Gardee family “fully appraised of the developments in the investigation once every two weeks”.
“This order arises from the failure of the Minister of Police and the National Commissioner of Police and their representatives to properly carry out their duties effectively,” Tambo said in a statement.
Tambo said the relief granted by the court was a victory for citizens in the battle against gender-based violence (GBV).
Former EFF secretary-general and attorney Godrich Gardee previously accused the police of incompetence, claiming that they ignored video footage revealing car registration numbers of his daughter’s killers.
The EFF once claimed that police officers at the crime scene did not notice that Gardee had a bullet wound in the back of her head and was only identified by a forensic team at a later stage.
The party then launched its own investigation into Gardee’s murder by hiring private investigators.
Meanwhile, the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday heard the bail applications of two of the three suspects who were arrested in connection with Gardee’s murder.
Philemon Lukhele, Sipho Lawrence Mkatshwa and Albert Mduzuzi Gama are facing charges of murder, rape, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping and possession of illegal firearms.
During the proceedings, the court heard that the defence – who will plead not guilty to all the charges against them – intended to subpoena Godrich Gardee.
Gama and Lukhele’s legal representative, advocate Nqobizitha Mlilo, also revealed that he had received threats from people belonging to a political party although he did not disclose the name.
The suspects will be back in court on 8 August.
In May, he was transferred to the Barberton Correctional Centre, which is a maximum security facility, after he was found with a phone in prison.
Lukhele had been detained at the Nelspruit Correctional Centre in Mpumalanga.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has since launched an investigation into the incident.