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300 People Confess to Cannibalism in South Africa

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Four men have been arrested in South Africa, facing charges of cannibalism, after one man entered a local police station saying that he was tired of eating human flesh. He reportedly had some human body parts with him to prove his point.

After that, police found more body parts in a home in Estcourt, in the east of the country. The four men that were arrested are in their early thirties, and one is a traditional healer. But after their arrest, around 300 local residents also confessed to eating human flesh, claiming the men gave it to them.

The four men appeared in court on Monday and are accused of raping and killing a woman who they later ate. It was her flesh that they allegedly handed out to villagers. According to a local councilman, Mthembeni Majola, the practice of cannibalism is not limited to Estcourt.

Some of the villagers also said that they had dug up graves to give body parts to the healer, which they believed would protect them, make them stronger, and bring them wealth. The South African province even has something called the Occult-Related Crime Unit, which is now investigating the case.

People have eaten other people to survive famine as recently as in 2011 in North Korea. There are actually no laws specifically against it in the U.S. or in most European countries. However, most people who eat human flesh are–if discovered–charged with murder or desecration of a corpse instead.

One of the most famous cannibalism cases was German Armin Meiwes, who was charged with cannibalism in 2004. However, his victim had replied to an ad by the cannibal, who was “looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed.” That made it more difficult to convict Meiwes, who had video proof of the victim consenting.

Then there was the 2012 case of a Florida man, known as the Miami zombie, who was found eating the face of a homeless man. He was allegedly high on bath salts, but his girlfriend claimed he might be under the influence of a voodoo spell, as he was not the violent type. And in 2010, a wrestler removed his training partner’s heart while he was still alive and cooked it, because he was high on mushroom tea and thought his friend was possessed by the devil.

Back in March, CNN’s Reza Aslan faced criticism for eating human brain on his TV show as part of portraying the Aghori Hindu fringe sect. But eating human flesh, especially brains, can lead to death even if they are cooked.

The investigation in South Africa is still ongoing, as police suspect the men may be connected to a larger organization. They are also urging people who have relatives missing in the area to come forward, as the body parts that were discovered may belong to more than one person.

Emma Von Zeipel
Emma Von Zeipel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. She is originally from one of the islands of Stockholm, Sweden. After working for Democratic Voice of Burma in Thailand, she ended up in New York City. She has a BA in journalism from Stockholm University and is passionate about human rights, good books, horses, and European chocolate. Contact Emma at EVonZeipel@LawStreetMedia.com.

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