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KwaZulu-Natal Traditional Healer Gets Life For Murder Of Woman With Albinism

'An innocent life was snuffed out due to dangerous beliefs and practices.' They murdered her to use her body parts to make 'muthi'.

23/02/2017 18:19 SAST | Updated 23/02/2017 18:20 SAST
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Delegates at a regional conference on albinism organised by the United Nations (UN) to discuss potential measures and legislation to protect people with albinism in Africa from discrimination and superstitious attacks, in Dar es Salaam in June 2016. In Tanzania, as well as in Malawi and some other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, albino body parts are sought after for potions and charms thought to bring luck and wealth, and many fall victim to murderers who dismember their bodies to supply this grisly black market trade. Canadian charity Under The Same Sun (UTSS) has documented 161 attacks on people with albinism in Tanzania in recent years, including 76 murders, more than anywhere else in Africa.

A KwaZulu-Natal traditional healer who conspired to murder a woman with albinism has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Mtubatuba High Court.

Bhekukufa Lindeni Gumede, 65, was the fourth person to be convicted of murdering Thandazile Mpunzi in the Phelendaba area, near Ingwavuma on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast in 2015.

Gumede's co-accused Mandla Mabuzo and Lindokuhle Khumalo pleaded guilty to the murder in September 2015 and were each sentenced to 20 years in prison. Another accused, Siyabonga Gwala, received an 18-year sentence in February last year for his role in the murder.

Prior to the murder, Gumede told his co-accused that he needed the body of an female with albinism.

He said that "muthi", mixed with the body parts of a person with albinism, would make them rich.

Mpunzi was born with albinism and had been in a relationship with Gwala before the men conspired to kill her.

According to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara, in mid-August 2015, Mpunzi was lured to a secluded area and strangled by the men. They took her body to a nearby forest, from where it was transported by the accused to another area.

"They met the following day and dismembered the body, taking away certain body parts. At a later stage they moved the remains of her body to another part of the forest, where it was buried."

Kara said the men used the Gumede's vehicle to transport the body.

Some of the accused were arrested on August 18, 2015, leading to the discovery of the decomposing remains of Mpunzi.

KwaZulu-Natal Director of Public Prosecutions Moipone Noko welcomed the sentence.

"An innocent life was snuffed out due to dangerous beliefs and practices."

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