MTUBATUBAM SOUTH AFRICA, Bhekukufa Gumede, a bishop from Manguz in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court here for masterminding the plot to kill a 21-year-old woman with albinism in 2015.

The court found that Gumede, who also worked as a traditional healer, killed Thandazile Mpunzi because he believed the body parts of a person with albinism would make him rich.

In August 2015 Mpunzi went missing for two weeks and her body parts were later found buried in a shallow grave and some of the body parts were found at Gumede’s home, located above the Khayelihle Christian Church, which has a huge following and nine branches in the area.

Bishop Gumede was the last accused to be sentenced in the Mpunzi murder trial. His co-assailants, Mandla Mabuza and Lindokuhle Khumalo, are already serving 18 to 20 years’ imprisonment each.

The court found that they kidnapped Mpunzi for two weeks before stabbing her to death after several attempts to strangle her to death failed. The court also heard that the body of the deceased was later skinned and her body parts shared among them in order to enrich themselves.

Handing out the sentence, Judge Themba Sishi said the bishop committed a heinous crime against a defenceless woman. The judge also lambasted Gumede for showing no remorse during the trial. Gumede had always maintained innocence in the matter.

The judge was also scathing of Gumede’s plight as a form of mitigation of sentence that he had a chronic disease. The judge said Gumede had failed to produce evidence of his illness.

The court gallery was almost full with Gumede’s family members who consoled him after the sentence.

Mpunzi’s family looked relieved. Her father, Sam Msweli, said they had been praying for the same punishment as was meted out to Gumede.

“I do welcome the sentence. Our prayers were answered. Even though we wont get anything but we are happy with the sentence. The fact that the murderer is alive doesn’t sit well with us but it gives us great joy that he has been sentenced to life imprisonment.”