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Mbombela - The kidnapping of two children in Hlalanikahle Village near eMalahleni in Mpumalanga more than a week ago may be related to superstitious beliefs, eMalahleni executive mayor Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said on Tuesday.

Gabisile Shabani, a 14-year-old girl and 15-month-old boy Nkosikhona Ngwenya, were allegedly kidnapped by three men on February 28.

“Gabisile is living with albinism and it is suspected that the three men who broke into their home also targeted Nkosikhona, whom they mistook for another baby [of the same family] who also lives with albinism,” said Ntshalintshali.

“There have been stories of people living with albinism being murdered for their body parts. These children have a right to live like any other child. The false belief that their body parts have extraordinary powers must be eradicated. Albanism is a genetically inherited condition.”

Police spokesperson Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe said the men broke a window and gained entry into the dining room of the house, where a 50-year-old woman was staying with her children and grandchildren.

“Upon hearing the noise of the breaking window, the woman and her 18-year-old daughter came out of their rooms to investigate. They reportedly met the barrel of a gun and were immediately ordered to remain silent. The men took two children from different rooms and vanished into the darkness,” said Bhembe.

Ntshalintshali called on all the faith-based organisations, non-governmental organisations and other formations to keep Gabisile and Nkosikhona in their prayers.

“Their forceful and violent removal from their familiar surrounding is very painful. The lives of their parents have been severely affected and they think about how their children are each moment they close their eyes.”

On Tuesday afternoon, provincial police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said the kids had still not been found.

African News Agency/ANA