The Mpumalanga High Court Division sitting in Middelburg has postponed the case against three of the four men, accused of killing Gabisile Shabane and her cousin, Nkosikhona Ngwenya at Hlalanikahle in Emalahleni. Shabane was living with albinism. Thokozani Msibi, Knowledge Mhlanga, Brilliant Mkhize are facing charges that include housebreaking, murder, kidnapping and violation of a corpse among others.
Knowledge Mhlanga and Brilliant Mkhize made a brief appearance in court. Thokozani Msibi, a traditional healer believed to be the mastermind, was not present in court. The court heard that a vehicle that was transporting him from Kgosi Mampuru prison where he is being kept broke down. Another accused, Themba Thubane, pleaded guilty in 2019 and is now serving two life sentences.
The kidnapping and killing of the two children happened in January 2018 and the suspects were arrested weeks later. It is reported that the suspects wanted a person with albinism to fortify their business, which was struggling.
Msibi is said to be the one who advised them to get a person with albinism to perform the necessary rituals. The suspects then abducted the children at their home.
Meanwhile, the family of the two deceased children says it has been a difficult two years for them. Gabisile’s mother Annah Shabane says the family wants to see the suspects rotting in jail.
“We would like to see this case coming to an end because its opens fresh wounds, we just want to see them being sentenced because it’s emotionally taxing on us having to testify and all that.”
Melokuhle Albinism Foundation’s Tryphinah Nhlapo says people with albinism are not feeling safe in communities.
“We are at the point where we look over our shoulders and in terms of protection, I don’t think we are protected there has not been much news to state that we are being targeted or something like that, but I feel that protection and otherwise we are not, we are not at a point where we can say we are fully protected.”
Meanwhile, a fifth accused who was reportedly arrested with body parts in Eswatini and expected to be extradited to the country has since passed on. Shabane’s mutilated body was found buried at a shallow grave in Cullinan, east of Pretoria.
Ngwenya’s body was found on the side of the N4 highway. The case has been postponed to Wednesday for trial.
The plight of those living with albinism
People living with albinism are among the most vulnerable citizens and face human rights violations and threats.
While violence against albinos is more severe north of our borders, there have been kidnapping and murders, allegedly for body parts.
Plight of South Africans living with albinism: