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."