'Cannibal case': 2 KZN men who killed woman for body parts get life sentences

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Nino Mbatha (L) and Lungisani Magubane in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court.
Nino Mbatha (L) and Lungisani Magubane in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court.
Chelsea Pieterse

The men convicted of killing a woman for her body parts in the infamous "cannibal case" have been sentenced to life in prison.

Judge Peter Olsen said Nino Mbatha, 33, and Lungisani Magubane, 32, were guilty of "the most heinous crime" when sentencing the two in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

A third accused, Khayelihle Lamula, was acquitted on Tuesday.

Mbatha and Magubane were convicted of murdering Zanele Hlatshwayo in Estcourt last year.

Mbatha, a traditional healer, was acquitted on charges of being in possession of Hlatshwayo's body parts and also for "dealing" in body parts by offering them for sale.

'Tired' of eating human flesh

The story hit the headlines last year when Mbatha walked into the Estcourt police station community centre, carrying a small bag and a horn usually associated with traditional healers, and announced that he was "tired" of eating human flesh.

Judge Olsen acquitted Mbatha for being in possession of body parts because he said it was a duplication of the murder charge. This was because the court found that Hlatshwayo was killed for her body parts.

When Mbatha originally arrived at the police station, the police officers did not believe him as he appeared mentally unstable.

However, he persisted with his story and then produced a human hand and a leg from his bag.

Subsequently, when police went to Mbatha’s house, they found more body parts there. 

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