Activist blames state and inyangas for death of girl with albinism

FILE IMAGE: Sympathisers sing in support of the Shabane family whose daughter Gabisile, who had albinism, was murdered along with her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
FILE IMAGE: Sympathisers sing in support of the Shabane family whose daughter Gabisile, who had albinism, was murdered along with her 15-month-old cousin Nkosikhona Ngwenya.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The community of Hlalakahle in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, came out in numbers to support the Shabane and Ngwenya families as the Middelburg High Court was yesterday expected to sentence a man accused of killing their two children.

Members of different political parties were united in song and dance as they demanded justice for the brutal murders of 13-year-old Gabisile Shabane and her cousin - 15-month-old Nkosikhona Ngwenya

Traditional leaders burnt incense outside court.

An activist for people living with albinism, Lucky Qoka, said they were shocked when they heard of the incident last year.

"But what shocked us even more was the confession by the accused in court. The gruesome details have made us question our safety in society, especially because the government has shown no interest in assisting us," said Qoka.

He also said if the government had been proactive in educating the public to kill the myths surrounding albinism, they could be safer.

"It is very sad that we are targeted and butchered like animals for unethical, unfair and unlawful reasons," Qoka added.

He told Sowetan that he would like to see justice in this case.

"I hope the perpetrators get a sentence that will set an example to all the so-called inyangas [traditional healers] out there who believe that using the parts of people living with albinism is a positive gain to witchcraft, evil practices and criminality," he said.

Mpumalanga MEC for culture, sports and recreation Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said the the local municipality gave its full support to the family during their difficult time.

Ntshalintshali previously served as mayor of eMalahleni municipality where the incident happened. "We, together with different stakeholders, have made the Shabane home a lot safer by ensuring that they get renovation, wall fence and cameras to protect them and their grandchild who is a toddler living with albinism," she said.

"The family lived in fear, and considering the fact that they are also living alone as females we stepped in and ensured their security." 

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