An albino boy who went missing on his way home from school may have been snatched for a tribal sacrifice in South Africa, it has been reported today. The disappearance of Sibisuso Nhatave, 14, prompted a police search in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal amid fears that he had been a victim of black magic. Albinism, a hereditary genetic condition, is viewed by many across Africa as magical and hundreds carrying the disorder have been killed for their parts.
Zulmira Nhatave,the teenager’s elder sister, who is also an albino, said: “Time is passing, we are starting to lose hope. But if God is with us, we will find him.”
Ms Nhatave added: “We used to fear being touched or taunted, now people are fearing for their lives. People are afraid, you never know what will happen. Some believe that if they shake hands with a person with albinism, they will have luck. Some try to be too nice, others want to touch you to know how your skin feels. Others say we don’t die but disappear, or if you give birth to an albino, you’re paying the price for laughing at people with albinism when you were young. They think it’s a curse. It’s horrible. You have to be careful as a woman. People come to you all the time. You have to read them carefully. Some have beliefs that if you have sex with an albino, you will have luck.”
Sibisuso was last seen on June 2 leaving Ikhandlela Junior Secondary School to make his way home. Despite police efforts there appears to be no trace of the pupil.
Concerns over his welfare come after hundreds of albinos have been killed for ‘muti’ – their organs – which are believed to have magical powers for spells and prayers. The practice is more common further north in the continent, in countries including Tanzania, where the government introduced legislation to try and combat the problem. There, albino girls had been raped by men who believed it would be a cure for Aids. The victims’ blood, hair and genitals would all be taken by witchdoctors who maintained they would bring luck.