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South Africa Cannibal Case Closes With Both Men Sentenced To Life In Prison

By Sharelle Burt

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Citizens in South Africa no longer have to live in fear after two men who were “tired of eating human flesh” were sentenced to life in prison.

After wandering into a local police station last year, officers were confused by the random claim but Nino Mbatha, who was holding a bag with a human hand and piece of a leg, took the officers to a house in Estcourt. The house, in KwaZulu-Natal province, had a bunch of body parts inside. Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Peter Olsen charged both men for the murder of a woman named Zanele Hlatshwayo last year, calling it ‘the most heinous crime.’ Destroying a human corpse and being in possession of human tissue are criminal offenses, but weirdly enough, there is no direct law against cannibalism in South Africa.

Three men denied all charges against them. Natasha Ramkissoon-Kara, a spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority said that Mbatha denied saying anything about eating human flesh shortly after authorities arrested him, so prosecutors decided to try the case as murder as an alternative. Magubane got involved after he went to Mbatha for muti, a South African term used for traditional medicine. Wanting it for good fortune,  Mbatha suggested they should get a woman or child since the “ancestors insisted that blood needed to be spilled.”

RELATED: Did South Africa’s Crime Steal The Show From Beyonce And Jay-Z’s Global Citizen Performance?

Hlatshwayo was killed by Mbatha with the assistance of Magubane, according to prosecutors. The 25-year-old was dismembered and body parts were used to make the traditional medicine. “What happened, in this case, is truly awful. It was the stuff of nightmares,” judge Olsen said. “How one would react in such circumstances is unpredictable. One may well want to unburden oneself of guilt but later have second thoughts.”

While cannibalism should be a crime across the world, there are other countries, like Germany and Russia, where the gross act isn’t considered illegal.


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