Estcourt landlord shocked to learn his brother was one of the cannibalism accused

2017-08-24 20:23
Landlord Philani Magubane stands next to the room he had rented out to an Estcourt traditional healer accused of cannibalism. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

Landlord Philani Magubane stands next to the room he had rented out to an Estcourt traditional healer accused of cannibalism. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - An Estcourt landlord who rented a room to a traditional healer accused of cannibalism was shocked to learn that his younger brother is one of the accused in the case.

"I’m still confused and my family is still shocked," Philani Magubane, 35, of Esigodlweni, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, told News24 on Thursday.

He said his brother, Lungisani Magubane, 30, was always very respectful. Lungisani introduced the traditional healer, Nino Mbatha, 32, to him in June.

Mbatha was looking for a room to rent at the time.

Mbatha, Magubane, Sthembiso Sithole, 31, Lindokuhle Masondo, 32, and Khayelihle Lamula, 32, are accused of the murder of Zanele Hlatshwayo, 25, in Rensburg Drift, Estcourt, on August 18.

Read: Hundreds confess to eating human flesh

They allegedly cut her up and ate parts of her body, apparently to make themselves wealthy.

All of them, except Lamula, were arrested last Friday. Lamula was arrested on Tuesday night.

They face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

They will remain in custody until their bail application in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

'The hand had nail polish'

Magubane said Mbatha claimed to be the son of the late, famous traditional healer Sosobala Mbatha from Nquthu and that he introduced himself as Mkhonyovu when they first met.

Last week, Mbatha had an argument over money with one of Magubane’s other tenants.

Magubane said this led to the alleged discovery of a woman’s hand in Mbatha’s room.

"The hand had nail polish and was still dripping with blood when the sister of the other tenant saw it on Thursday. An argument ensued between Mbatha and the other tenant on Friday last week and that tenant threatened to report him to police. That’s when Mbatha handed himself over to police," Magubane said.

Mbatha went to a local police station and allegedly confessed to being tired of eating human flesh.

Magubane said he usually rented his rooms to students from the local FET college.

"This was the first time that I had rented my place to an inyanga [traditional healer]. I’m still consulting with elders about what kind of ritual I need to perform to cleanse my yard because bringing human remains to one’s yard is bad luck," he said.

Also read: 'I'm tired of eating humans'

A woman from the area said her uncle used to be Mbatha’s client.

"My mother told him to stop consulting him because she suspected that he was up to no good," she said.

"As much as we are shocked and still scared, we are glad that he and his accomplices were arrested. We hope that they don’t get bail on Monday when they appear in court," she said.

Another woman, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said they would protest outside court on Monday to demand that the men not get bail.

Both women denied media reports that about 300 residents had claimed to have eaten human flesh they allegedly got from Mbatha.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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