'Cannibals' abandon bail application

Pietermaritzburg - The five men accused of cannibalism abandoned their bail application at the Estcourt Magistrate Court on Monday.

Traditional healer Nino Mbatha, 32, Sithembiso Sithole, 31, Lindokuhle Masondo, 32, Lungisani Magubane, 30, and Khayelihle Lamula, 32, all of Esigodlweni, made a brief appearance before Magistrate Arti Sookraj.

They covered their faces with hooded jackets and hoodies when they made their way to the dock.

Magubane wept uncontrollably during the court proceedings.

The five are accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

They are also accused of the murder of Zanele Hlatshwayo, 25, on August 18 at Rensburg Drift, Estcourt.

READ: 'Cannibal victim' had a bad feeling - family

Protests

Four of them were arrested on August 18, after Mbatha allegedly walked into the local police station in possession of human body parts and confessed that he was tired of eating human flesh.

Lamula was arrested last Tuesday, August 22.

Their Legal Aid Board lawyer Thandeka Radebe said she was instructed by her clients that they no longer wished to apply for bail.

Prosecutor Israel Zuma said the State was opposed to bail.

Zuma then applied for the case to be postponed "for further investigation".

He told the court that more suspects had to be arrested in the matter.

Protest

An Estcourt resident holds a placard written: 'We're not KFC, Nandos or Chicken Licken. We're humans, we're not eatable.' She was part of a protest outside the local magistrate court where five men accused of cannibalism appeared. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

Hundreds of Estcourt residents protested outside court, opposing bail in the matter, and police from Pietermaritzburg were deployed outside court to control the crowd.

Hlatshwayo's sister Nozipho Mpelele, 31, said they wished that the men received life imprisonment for allegedly killing her sister.

"My sister lived in fear during her final days alive. It was as if she knew that something bad would happen to her. We were all scared because people's bodies had been found in the area before with missing body parts," she said.

Mbatha's landlord Philani Magubane had told News24 that a woman's hand with nail polish was allegedly found by other tenants in Mbatha's room.

Estcourt residents protest outside the local magistrate court where five men accused of cannibalism appeared. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

"If there's a 'traditional healer' among the five accused we want him to be jailed for life. We're against bogus traditional healers who use human body parts to do their evil work," said Siphiwe Manana from the Traditional Healers Organisation.

Sookraj postponed the matter to September 28.

The five "cannibals" were remanded in custody.

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