Article by:  – First published on groundup.org.za

Hundreds of people with albinism marched in Durban on Wednesday to commemorate World Albinism Day and to mark five years of official acknowledgement of albinism as a disability

Marchers from all over KwaZulu-Natal walked from Dinizulu Park to the Durban City Hall, GroundUp reports.

They came from AbaQulusi, Manguzi, Uthukela and Ugu, and included disability organisations and families affected by the murder of family members with albinism.

The chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Albinism Society, Maxwell Thabethe, said the march was to celebrate the acknowledgement of albinism by municipalities and government departments.

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“Today we celebrate five years being declared as people with disability. Before 13 June 2013, we did not have an identity. People with albinism were discriminated against.”

He said people with albinism had been isolated but now felt more accepted and able to participate in society.

“Different government departments are beginning to gain trust [in] people with albinism. They are giving them learnerships and internships,” said Thabethe.

Disappearances, brutal killings

“We are now visible. With the help of trained social workers the Department of Social Development is acknowledging us. We have established a strong relationship with the Department of Health. In some hospitals in Durban, people with albinism get emotional support and professional skincare,” said Thabethe.

But, he said, people with albinism still faced threats.

“There have been attacks and killings directed [at] people with albinism. Our people still go missing without a trace. They are brutally killed and buried in pieces.

“When we report these cases to the police, the normal answer is: ‘We can’t open a case because no one was injured.'”

Thabethe said, with the help of the authorities, they hoped to win the battle.

Zulmira Nhatave from Esikhawini says her 14-year-old brother disappeared in 2011. He had albinism. The family still does not know what happened, she said.

“He disappeared without a trace. What we know is that he was seen coming from school. He was seen with someone. That was the last day we saw him,” said Nhatave.

“We opened a case with the police. The police have told us nothing until this day.”