‘Mastermind’ behind gruesome killing of woman with albinism for muti to hear his fate in court
Bongani Mthethwa | 2017-02-19 12:21:42.0
Gavel. File Photo.
Image by: CARLOS JASSO
A traditional healer accused of being the mastermind behind the killing of a woman with albinism for muti will know his fate in court on Tuesday.
Archbishop Bhekukufa Gumede‚ a leader of the New Star Church in Zion and who earned a living as a traditional healer‚ might have to swap his religious robes for orange prison garb if the case in the Mtubatuba High Court goes against him in KwaZulu-Natal.
Gumede is facing a murder charge after allegedly hiring three men to hunt down and kill 20-year-old Thandazile Mpunzi.
The horrific killing took place in Manguzi on the border of Mozambique and South Africa in August 2015‚ barely two months after the first commemoration of the World Albinism Alliance and International Albinism Awareness Day on June 13.
Mpunzi’s brutal death sparked outrage across the country.
Her mutilated body was found next to Gumede’s home in Manguzi‚ buried in a shallow grave. Her missing private parts‚ limbs and skin – which had been peeled off her body – were allegedly found at Gumede’s house during a search.
Gumede’s three co-accused‚ Mandla Mabuza‚ 20‚ Lindokuhle Khumalo‚ 20‚ and Siyabonga Gwala‚ 18‚ pleaded guilty to the murder. Mabuza and Khumalo were sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment while Gwla was given 18 years.
Mabuza and Khumalo told the court that Gumede made them believe that muti mixed with the body parts of a person with albinism would make them rich. In their confession‚ the two told how they lured Mpunzi to her death using Gwala‚ her boyfriend‚ as bait.
Gwala fetched Mpunzi from her home and took her to a secluded area where Mabuza and Khumalo were waiting. They strangled her.
The next day her body was dismembered. Some of her remains were later transported in Gumede’s vehicle to a forest and buried in a shallow grave.
Khumalo and Mabuza said Gumede had allegedly given them money to buy alcohol to help them sleep without thinking about the killing.
The Commission for Gender Equality described Mpunzi’s killing as “despicable” and expressed outrage that there were still people who believed that killing people with albinism would bring them luck or make their medicine stronger.
The Albinism Society of South Africa also expressed outrage.