Teacher who killed Mpumalanga albino teen for muti gets two life terms
Themba Thubane, convicted of murdering a teen with albinism and her cousin in Hlalanikahle in Mpumalanga, was on Friday sentenced to two life terms and a further five years in prison in the Mpumalanga High Court in Middelburg.
Delivering her judgment in a fully packed court room, Judge Sheila Mphahlele said: "Those children suffered gruesome pain at the hands of unscrupulous men who were blinded by greed for money.
"This case clearly demonstrates that people who live with albinism are vulnerable. This shows that there is a need to educate us to dispel the myth about albinism. Traditional healers must also condemn the need to attack these people. The behavior of the accused showed a lack of repentance."
Themba Thubane in the dock at the Middelburg High Court in Mpumalanga. (Balise Mabona, Correspondent)
The two children, Gabisile Shabane and Nkosikhona Ngwenya, were kidnapped from their home in Hlalanikahle in eMalahleni on the night of January 28 last year, allegedly by three men who entered the house through a broken window.
The headless and mutilated body of 13-year-old Shabane was found buried in a shallow grave in Cullinan in the east of Pretoria in February last year.
The body of 15-month-old Ngwenya was found in a river on the side of the N4 in eMalahleni the same month.
Thubane, traditional healer Thokozani Msibi, Knowledge Mhlanga and Brilliant Mkhize were arrested in February last year.
Thubane, 41, was convicted in the same court on Monday after he pleaded guilty to seven charges including housebreaking, kidnapping and premeditated murder.
He told the court at the time that he, Mhlanga and another man, Fankie Khumalo, visited Msibi in eMalahleni in December 2017 for a consultation.
He said he wanted Msibi to help him with muti to make his struggling business of renting out tents flourish, adding that Msibi advised them to get a child with albinism and bring him or her to him.
Msibi, Mhlanga and Mkhize on Monday pleaded not guilty to the eight charges they each faced. Their trial was postponed to May 20 next year.
Judge Mphahlele said Thubane's claim that he initially believed Msibi when he told him that killing a person with albinism would have made his business flourish was ridiculous.
She said this was because Thubane is a teacher by profession who holds a Bachelor's degree in Education.
Judge Mphahlele said the other parts that were missing from Gabisile's body when it was found were her heart, liver, left arm and genitals.
According to Judge Mphahlele, Thubane previously told the same court that murdering the two children made his life difficult because he constantly had terrible nightmares.
Gabisile's mother, Annah Shabane, shed tears after the delivery of the judgment and said she has forgiven Thubane.
"We are happy as a family that one of the suspects pleaded guilty and was sentenced. I thank the police, mayors, members of the public and social workers for their support," said Shabane.
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