Albino victim's family lives in fear

Durban – Thandeka Msweli from Ecabazini village in Manguzi, northern KwaZulu-Natal, said she fears for her life after the brutal murder of her albino sister, Thandazile Mpunza.

Msweli is also an albino.

Mpunza, a 20-year-old Grade 6 pupil at Sibongiseni Primary School, was allegedly killed and dismembered earlier this month. Her body was found buried in a shallow grave at Phelandaba. Her body parts were seemingly commissioned for traditional muti.

On Tuesday, Msweli, 24, came face to face with the men accused of her sister's murder. They appeared in the Manguzi Magistrate’s Court.

Msweli said when she saw the men, she "felt like killing them".

Siyabonga Gwala, 18, Lindokuhle Khumalo, 19, Mandla Mabuza, 19, and Bhekukufa Gumede, 65, a traditional healer and pastor, have all been charged with Mpunza’s murder.

The case was adjourned to October 13.

Msweli said she grew up in a family of six.

“There were three albinos in the family and with Thandazile gone I am left with my sister Thuleleni.”

Msweli said she and her sisters were often teased by other children because of the colour of their skin.

“People didn’t like us, they used to call us monkeys and said we looked like white people, but our parents treated us [as] normal.”

Before Msweli’s father, Lucas, died in 2004, he told the family that his sister was the first in the family to give birth to albinos.

Recalling what happened when her sister went missing on August 1, Msweli said her sister Thandazile left the house after receiving a phone call.

“She went to meet someone... and she never came back home. We went to look for her and we called her phone but we could not reach her.”

The family, with the help of the community, went to look for Mpunza but they could not find her.

“We went to the police to report her missing on August 5, but we didn’t receive any help from the local police.”

She said she was there when her sister's body was found.

“She was in pieces, the police placed all the pieces in sacks. I have never seen anything like that.”

Mpunza’s uncle, Sam Msweli, 70, said he was heartbroken over his niece's death.

“I will never forget what I saw that day. These are my brother’s children and there is nothing wrong with them, it is just the colour of their skin."