Hundreds of black African cannibals have engaged in huge feasts on human flesh this year in the South African town of Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal Province, a local government official has admitted—a day after four locals appeared in court charged with murder and conspiracy.
According to a report in South Africa’s News24 news service, more than 300—out of a village of only 971—have admitted to knowingly taken part in cannibalistic feasts this year under the orders of a local witch doctor.
The four arrested Africans, named as Nino Mbatha (32), Sthembiso Sithole (31), Lindokuhle Masondo (32), and Lungisani Magubane (30), appeared in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court on Monday this week on charges of murder and conspiracy.
They were arrested after one of the four walked into the Estcourt police station on Friday, holding human body parts and confessed to being “tired of eating human flesh.”
When he was questioned, he produced part of a human leg and a hand. Further investigation led police to a house in the Rensburgdrift area in Estcourt where they were met with a foul smell, and more human remains were found.
The four Africans apparently raped, killed, and cut up the body of a woman, which they then consumed.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said on Friday that one of the accused, Mbatha, was a “nyanga” (a politically correct word meaning traditional healer, but in reality just a witch doctor), and was arrested in the Amangwe area where more body parts were found.
Later, ward councillor Mthembeni Majola, who held a meeting at the Esigodlweni community hall on Monday morning, said that around 300 residents had confessed to visiting Mbatha, and knowingly eating human flesh that he gave to them.
He said that there were around 700 people at the meeting where about 300 residents confessed to knowing Mbatha had human flesh and confessed to eating it.
Majola also revealed that the cannibalism “was not just limited to Estcourt” and that Mbatha “had links across the Uthukela area.”
“We don’t know what to do or who to trust,” said Majola. “This has happened within our community. Families, people we know and live with have now confessed to eating this woman,” he said.
He added that community members had also confessed to digging up graves under Mbatha’s orders, and giving Mbatha the bones.
Majola said the community had said at the meeting that the witchdoctor had told them that digging up the graves would make them strong and protect them from harm and that bringing him the bones would bring them wealth in the future.
Majola said he could not believe his eyes when one of the suspects led community members and police to where the body of a woman was buried.
“It was buried under big rocks and we had to call a TLB machine to remove the rocks. They showed us the body parts in one of the houses. They admitted that they were waiting for the body parts to attract maggots. Apparently maggots collect money for them.”