E-mail causes ‘cannibal’ scare

2009-10-24 00:00

CANNIBALS, missing people, decomposing bodies with missing organs … While this sounds like a good horror movie, these are in fact the contents of a hoax e-mail that is causing hysteria among residents in Phoenix and Verulam, north of Durban.

People are living in fear after reading the e-mail, which describes the hijacking of a truck that was allegedly carrying a group of cannibals.

The e-mail describes the group as large creatures with fangs, claws and “monkey-like” features.

According to the e-mail, these cannibals ate the driver and a child that was abducted in Brookdale in Phoenix.

East Coast Radio, security company Reaction Unit South Africa and local police have been inundated with calls regarding the e-mail, which started making the rounds this week.

While police have dismissed the e-mail as a hoax, residents are living in fear, especially since five decomposing bodies were found in sugar cane fields near the new airport.

In Verulam, residents discovered the body of a young man whose organs were removed, possibly while he was still alive. The gruesome murder is believed to be the work of a serial killer.

The e-mail has also been linked to a mob protest in Amaoti near Inanda, just outside Durban.

It is believed the residents heard that a cannibal has been arrested and is being kept at the satellite police station at Amaoti.

The group arrived at the station last Sunday and demanded that police hand over the suspect. Rubber bullets were used to disperse the crowd.

Prem Balaram of Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) said that his control room has been inundated with calls from frantic residents since Sunday.

He said that even people wanting to visit the area have called to find out if there is any truth in the e-mail.

“We receive almost 30 calls a day. People have become very paranoid after seeing the e-mail. We have no evidence that there are cannibals in the area,” he said.

The only thing that security guards have found during call-outs are dead cats, said Balaram.

While Balaram admits that the e-mail has caused a lot of panic, and a waste of time and resources, he said he and his team will investigate all calls.

He said the discovery of the bodies in the sugar cane fields has added to the panic.

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