Fifth suspect arrested in KZN cannibalism case
DURBAN - A fifth man has been arrested in connection with the murder and consumption of human remains in Estcourt.
Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, police spokesperson, confirmed the arrest on Wednesday and said two of the five men arrested were traditional healers.
The four, Lungisani Magubane, 30; Lindokuhle Masondo, 32; Sithembiso Sithole, 31; and 32-year-old Nino Mbatha appeared in the Estcourt Magistrate's Court on Monday.
Mbatha and the fifth suspect arrested on Wednesday are traditional healers.
One of the men is believed to have walked into the Estcourt police station and told police he was tired of eating human flesh. When police questioned him, he produced part of a leg and a hand.
Police were led to a house in the Estcourt area of Rensburgdrift, where they noticed a foul smell.
They entered the house and found more body parts.
The fourth man was arrested in Amangwe, near Rensburgdrift. More body parts were found at his home.
The men appeared in court on Monday, where they faced charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
At this stage, police suspect the men may have also violated graves.
At a community meeting on Monday, hundreds of Estcourt residents confessed to eating human flesh.
Meanwhile, a Midlands family has claimed the body parts found at a house in Estcourt at the weekend belonged to their 25-year-old relative. The women are confident their sister, Zanele Hlatshwayo, was killed and her body parts consumed by four men.
Hlatshwayo, who has a two-year old son, was apparently on her way to visit her sick grandmother in Pietermaritzburg last month when she disappeared.
Police are awaiting DNA test results.
The men are due back in court on Monday for a formal bail application.
Dr Velaph Mkhize, of the Umsamo Institute, part of the South African Healers Association, said African traditional healers did not use human flesh to heal.
“Healers who use body parts are not at all healers or called by ancestors to perform their work. We only use herbs and animal fats for muti and nothing else. We also use those things revealed to a healer through his dreams or visions,” he said.
Mhkize blamed the use of body parts by some healers on desperation from people and lack of knowledge and understanding.
He quashed the notion that certain body parts were more powerful when used by those claiming to be healers.
“The use of body parts by traditional healers is wrong and barbaric. More education needs to be done to our people on these issues,” Mkhize said.
Commenting on the matter, Reverend Ian Booth of the Diakonia Council of Churches, said they were deeply disturbed by the recent reports.
“We are outraged by this socially unacceptable behaviour and morally condemn cannibalism in any form as well as the violence involved in such acts. We request that the authorities investigate and prosecute those involved who violate the victims basic right to human dignity,” he said