'The most heinous crime': Two South African men jailed for cannibalism

Traditional healer Nino Mbatha, 33, has been sentenced to life in prison, along with one of his accomplices, Lungisani Magubane, 32.
Traditional healer Nino Mbatha, 33, has been sentenced to life in prison, along with one of his accomplices, Lungisani Magubane, 32. Photo credit: Getty

Two South African men have been jailed for cannibalism, after one of them walked into a police station carrying body parts saying he was "tired of eating human flesh". 

Traditional healer Nino Mbatha, 33, has been sentenced to life in prison, along with one of his accomplices, Lungisani Magubane, 32, after standing trial in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg. 

The two men have been charged over the 2017 killing of 24-year-old woman Zanele Hlatshwayo, who the court found had been killed for her body parts, local daily newspaper The Witness reports. 

Khayelihle Lamula, another male accomplice, was aquitted due to a lack of evidence, according to the newspaper. 

Police in the town of Estcourt became aware of Ms Hlatshwayo's death after Mbatha entered the police station last year to confess. The police at first thought he had mental health issues, but took action after Mbatha produced a human hand and leg from his bag. 

That's when Mbatha told the police he was "tired of eating human flesh". 

Judge Olsen said Mbatha and Magubane - who entered a detailed statement about his role in Ms Hlatshwayo's killing - were guilty of "the most heinous crime". 

"How one would react in such circumstances is unpredictable," she said. "One may well want to unburden oneself of guilt, but later have second thoughts."

Several men were originally arrested in relation to the killing, and were met with large, angry crowds at their court appearances. 

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

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