One of the defendants in the Hillary Gardee rape and murder case has been transferred to a maximum security prison after prison officials allegedly found a cell phone in his possession this week.
Police are now investigating a criminal case against the defendant Philemon Lukhele for allegedly smuggling contraband into his prison cell at Nelspruit Correctional Centre.
According to Department of Correctional Services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo, Lukhele was found in possession of the phone on Tuesday.
“Mobile phones are classified as contraband in prisons and are therefore prohibited items. An investigation is currently underway as it is crucial to determine the circumstances in which this mobile phone was smuggled in and the individuals involved,” he said.
Lukhele has been placed in a maximum ward at Barberton Correctional Center moved.
“In order for the country to have safe correctional facilities, we expect nothing but strict adherence to safety standards from anyone involved with the correctional authority,” Nxumalo said.
“As such, visitors, inmates, officers, and private individuals caught violating our regulations will be dealt with through the criminal justice system.
“DCS’ determination is clear, those involved in the smuggling of smuggling will never do so be spared any mercy.”
Lukhele’s legal department confirmed that he was found with a mobile phone. The team said the phone was a general prison phone used by inmates.
“The phone was found during a general raid on the prison and was not specifically aimed at Lukhele,” his attorneys said.< p>News of the transfer comes the same week that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate confirmed to TimesLIVE Investigations that they were investigating claims by Lukhele and his co-defendants Albert Gama and Sipho Mkhatshwa that police investigated the murder of Gardee investigated, had tortured her to extract confessions while they urged her to testify about the alleged role of EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu in the murder.
“They asked me about my involvement the murder and that the murder was planned with Floyd Shivambu. They said I organized people to kill them in my presence. They again questioned Floyd Shivambu’s involvement in the murder. I have denied all of this,” Lukhele was quoted as saying in his statement to Ipid.
Mpumalanga Police Spokesman Brig Selvy Mohlala denied the allegations of torture by the police, saying: “There was no torture by the police the police suspects. The investigation is ongoing and the case is currently on the court record, so unfortunately we are unable to comment on the findings and procedures of the investigation.”
The 28-year-old Gardee, the daughter of the former EFF Secretary General Godrich Gardee, was kidnapped, raped and murdered between April 29th and 30th.
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