SOUTH AFRICA – One of the four men accused of the murder of the Shabane cousins from Hlalanikahle township in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, has admitted to killing the 15-year-old child and his 15-month-old cousin who he then threw into a river in 2018.

Knowledge Wenzi Mhlanga took the stand for the first time in the Mpumalanga High Court sitting in the Middelburg magistrate’s court yesterday and told the court that he had first denied the chronicles of the gruesome events that led to the death of Gabisile Shabane, who was living with albinism, and his cousin, but later admitted to murdering the pair in order to stop interrogation by the police.

“The pain I suffered from the police was too much and I no longer wanted to be suffocated. It was very painful. I eventually admitted to the crimes to stop the punishment,” Mhlanga told the court.

“After being tortured by police for hours at Witbank police station on the night of my arrest in 2018, I decided to admit to the allegations the police were putting before me after the interrogation.”

He admitted to travelling from Pretoria with his co-accused, Thokazani Msibi, who was giving instructions on how to search and identify homes that had children living with albinism.

Mhlanga said after failing to find children living with the condition in Limpopo, they then tried Middelburg after getting the information from Msibi, who knew the family with children living with albinism.

“Yes, I went to Hlalanikahle  with Msibi and kidnapped the two children and drove out of Middelburg with them. On the way we realised that we had made a mistake by  also taking a baby who was not living with albinism. I then threw him over the bridge and he fell into the river,” Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga, who kept laughing and smiling throughout his two-hour testimony, told the court that after dumping the baby, he and Msibi went to sleep at his home.

The children were abducted from their home in January 2018 while sleeping with their parents.

Gabisile’s mother Annah Shabane lived with the two children at the time of the incident.

Last year, in the same court, one of the four accused, Themba Thubane, a teacher by profession, pleaded guilty to killing Gabisile and his cousin.

He was tried separately.

Thubane was sentenced to two life prison terms and was also handed an additional five-year sentence after he was found guilty on all counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping.

Gabisile’s headless body was later found in a shallow grave in Cullinan near Pretoria.

The matter was postponed to today after the court proceedings were disrupted by load-shedding.

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