The family of a slain 13-year-old girl with albinism are so terrified of muthi killers that they have made their toddler a prisoner in his own home.
Yesterday, Anna Shabane – the mother of 13-year-old Gabisile – told the Middelburg High Court that the family has had to beef up security at home.
Gabisile was killed after she was abducted from her home in Hlalakahle in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, last year by a group of men who allegedly wanted her body parts for muti purposes.
Gabisile’s 15-month-old baby cousin, who didn’t have albinism, Nkosikhona Ngwenya, was also abducted with her and later thrown alive off a bridge to drown in a dam near the N4 highway.
One of the four men accused of the double murders, Josiah Thubane, 40, pleaded guilty on all charges including two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of kidnapping, housebreaking with intent to commit murder and one count of violation of a corpse.
Speaking in aggravation of Thubane’s sentence, Shabane told the high court that her family was living in fear and that her daughter’s killing has destroyed her family.
"I was close to my daughter, and her twin sister Khanyisile has been more shattered by her sister’s passing. The manner in which she was killed makes me feel that they should have taken me and not her," she said sobbing.
Shabane told the court that she still has flashbacks of the day she found her daughter’s headless and decomposed body with missing body parts.
"I replay the vivid images in my head over and over again and I keep hoping she would come back. She was young and had a bright future ahead of her," said the mother.
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Shabane also revealed that after security was beefed up by installing CCTV cameras and building a high wall at her house, rumour swelled that she had sold her children.
"I was helped by the municipality after my family was attacked to build a wall around my home and to put in cameras, but my community accused me of selling my children for money to renovate my home," said the mother.
Prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni told the court the victim’s report revealed that the mother of the murdered 15-month-old baby, Nompumelelo Ngwenya, was psychologically affected. Mpolweni said when the child was abducted Ngwenya was breastfeeding him.
The prosecutor further said according to social workers, the family lived in fear and was overprotective of the remaining child as they feared he could also be killed.
"The fear is so extreme that the [toddler] cannot even go and play outside with other children and that is as the result of the attack, abduction and killing of two of their children."
In a statement read out in court, Thubane said that he was part of the plan to kill Gabisile and admitted that he knew she was being abducted to be killed for her body parts.
Thubane also admitted to killing baby Nkosikhona
"I admit that on the 27-28 of January 2018 I did unlawfully and intentionally kill the baby by throwing him off the bridge of Zaalklap River. I admit that on the next day in Cullinan, I killed Gabisile Shabane, a 13-year-old," said Thubane.
Thubane, a teacher by profession and father of four, apologised to the family as he was escorted to the holding cells.
Three of his co-accused in the case – Thokozani Msibi, a traditional healer, Brilliant Mkhize and Knowledge Mhlanga – who face the same charges, will appear in court again on May 25 next year.
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Mpolweni said that Thubane was not remorseful for the gruesome murder of the two children.
"He only cooperated after he was caught and nothing justified slaughtering Gabisile and chopping off her head, left arm, removing her heart, liver, genital parts that came as proof supported by the postmortem," said Mpolweni.
Mpolweni further asked the judge to consider the fact that a baby was thrown off a bridge like a stone into a stream of water to die.
"Did he ever ask himself what trauma and pain the Shabane and Ngwenya families have gone through after their actions?"
Mpolweni further said the perpetrators deserved no lighter sentence than life imprisonment.
The matter was postponed to Friday for sentencing.