Suspected cannibals choose to remain behind bars


The five men accused of cannibalism decided to remain behind bars.

ESTCOURT - Residents of Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal say they're still scared, despite five men accused of cannibalism deciding to remain behind bars.

The men abandoned their bail application on Monday.

Traditional healer Nino Mbatha and four others were arrested during the past two weeks after he allegedly confessed to eating human flesh.

"All five men appeared in court on Monday for a bail hearing but opted to abandon their bail application," police spokeswoman Thembeka Mbhele told AFP.

The accused, all in their 30s, are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and possession of human parts.

READ: Cannibalism case postponed to September

The grisly case, which has rocked the small town, has raised concerns about witchcraft and traditional medicine.

According to the police, the first suspect walked into Escourt police station on 18 August with a bag containing a human leg and a hand.

He told officers on duty that he had eaten human flesh and he led them to a house where more human remains were found.

"At this stage we don't know who these body parts belong to. We are still awaiting DNA results," said Mbhele.

"We are also investigating how long has this been going on for and how many people have been killed," she said.

Outside the court where the men appeared, a crowd waved placards condemning the alleged crimes.

South Africa has no direct law against cannibalism, but mutilating a corpse and being in possession of human tissue are criminal offences.

The case will resume on 28 September.

- Additional reporting AFP