“I’m tired of eating human flesh.”
That’s not the first thing you’d expect a person to say after walking into a police station, but officers in Escourt, a town in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, had reason to believe this man was telling the truth – he was carrying part of a human leg and a hand. What’s worse, the man appears to be part of a cannibalistic syndicate of witch doctors in a village where one-third of the residents admit to eating human flesh. Can you stand one more horrific fact? None of them may be in trouble because cannibalism is legal in South Africa! What kind of bizarre world is this? Can it really be happening in 2017?
“When the police were following this matter they discovered eight ears in a pot where one man was staying. That means there is much more to this.”
Oh, no … there’s more? Local council member Mthembeni Majola described the scene after the man with the leg and hand led police to locations where the cannibalism occurred. Police spokeswoman Captain Charmaine Struwig told this to Estcourt News:
“Human remains were found at one crime scene in Estcourt and another crime scene at Amangwe. At this time only one person is suspected of having been killed and her identity is as yet unknown.”
In addition to the remains, the police found more cannibals. They arrested a total of four men, with one of them admitting he’s a witch doctor or traditional healer. The pot of ears (a great name for a metal band … too soon?) indicated to forensic investigators that there were likely to find more victims and that this group was organized into some sort of cannibalistic syndicate that acquired human remains for others in a addition to eating them themselves.
Why were they arrested if cannibalism is legal in South Africa? Good question. While cannibalism is legal, the Human Tissue Act of 1983 prohibits possession of any human tissue or body part without a permit. That’s right … it’s OK if you have the proper paperwork! However, these guys will most likely be charged with the murder of the victim.
Can you stand any more? Council member Mthembeni Majola held a town hall meeting to talk to some of the 900+ residents of this community, possibly to console them. Instead, he was shocked to find out that over 300 people at the meeting admitted to have knowingly eaten human flesh. Most pointed to Nino Mbatha, one of the men arrested, as the witch doctor and Majola says he ordered some of them to dig up graves as part of his “healing.”
“He 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.”
South Africa is far from the only country that tolerates such morbid, violent and often fatal practices in the name of tradition or native religions. As difficult as it is to change a person’s religious beliefs, it’s even harder to change desperate or greedy people looking for easy ways to get rich.
Is there a solution? Is there a solution that doesn't involve another religion? Can education, better health care or universal minimum wage help?