“We want to see them and we want to kill them with our own hands‚” demanded placard-wielding crowds who had gathered outside the court.
Police had a tough time keeping furious protesters at bay outside the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court as five men implicated in a human flesh-eating scandal appeared on Monday.
The small KwaZulu-Natal Midlands town came to a standstill as traffic in Albert Street‚ where the court is located‚ was blocked off by the crowd who hurled insults at the accused.
The five are facing charges of murder‚ conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder. They were identified as inyanga (traditional healer) Nino Mbatha‚ 32‚ Sithembiso Doctor Sithole‚ 31‚ who is also an inyanga‚ Lindokuhle Masondo‚ 32‚ Khayelihle Lamula‚ 32‚ and Lungisani Magubane‚ 30.
The men‚ who tried to conceal their faces with hoodies or hats‚ abandoned their bail application and the case was adjourned until the end of September.
The angry crowds waited for about three hours to see the accused after they appeared in court.
Ward 18 councillor Siboniso Ndwandwe‚ accompanied by fellow councillor Mthembeni Majola‚ addressed the crowd while police whisked the accused away in an armoured vehicle.
“Let’s all exercise patience and restraint. We are all angry but let’s allow the law to take its course‚” said Ndwandwe.
The crowd then marched back on foot to Esigodlweni‚ a distance of about eight kilometres from the CBD.
Police believe that in at least one case the body parts came from a woman‚ Zanele Hlatshwayo‚ 25‚ of Shayamoya‚ 35km west of Estcourt. She went missing on July 25 and her body is believed to be the one found lying in a veld in Esigodlweni.
TimesLIVE has established that at least three graves were dug up in June.
Two of the desecrated graves are in the town’s Forderville Cemetery‚ while the other is in a traditional burial site where the body of resident Mongezi Mkhize was illegally exhumed. Magubane is Mkhize’s brother-in-law.
There is no specific crime of cannibalism in South African law‚ reported the Sunday Times.
Suhayfa Bhamjee‚ a senior lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Law‚ said there were a number of other common law and statutory crimes that can and have been used to prosecute such incidents‚ depending on the facts of each case.
“The issue of cannibalism has historically been prosecuted under murder‚ violating or desecrating a corpse and declaration of the accused as a dangerous criminal.
“The act of cannibalism itself‚ however‚ has been treated as a mental health issue‚ although not unconnected to the main charge‚” said Bhamjee.