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Durban – The Albinism Society of South Africa expressed outrage on Wednesday over the murder of a 20-year-old albino woman in Maputaland.
The dismembered body of Thandazile Mpunzi was found in a shallow grave in Manguzi on Sunday. Her family had reported her missing earlier this month.
It is believed her death was connected to witchcraft as body parts had been removed.
Police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane said it appeared that Mpunzi had been strangled to death and her bloodstained clothes had been found near a home of a local traditional healer.
Nomasonto Mazibuko, commissioner in the Albinism Society of South Africa, said Mpunzi’s death was “very upsetting”.
“People who practise traditional medicine still use body parts of people with albinism. What they do not realise is that people with albinism are the same as the rest of the human race.
“The only difference is that their skin lacks a pigment called melanin,” said Mazibuko.
Zwane said the search for Mpunzi led to the arrest of Siyabonga Gwala, 18, Lindokuhle Khumalo, 19, and Mandla Mabuza,19, who pointed out where the body had been hidden.
Police later arrested 65-year-old Bhekukufa Gumede, a traditional healer and pastor who lives in the area.
Zwane said the accused appeared at the Emanguzi Magistrate’s Court facing murder charges, and the case was adjourned to August 25.
Mazibuko said the murder came after the first World Albinism Day which the UN had declared on June 13 as a day to commemorate the fight against “myths and stigma faced by people with albinism”.
Mazibuko added that murder for muti purposes of people with albinism was a result of superstition, ignorance and hatred.
The accused have been remanded.