Protests as three accused of eating human flesh are freed
VIOLENT protests erupted outside the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court yesterday when three of the seven men accused of murder and consuming human flesh were provisionally released and charges dropped against them.
Lindokuhle Masondo, Wiseman Madlala and Sazi Ndlovu left the court free men after senior prosecutor Israel Zuma told magistrate Arthi Sukhraj that he had received instructions from the office of the provincial director of public prosecutor to provisionally withdraw charges against the accused as there was insufficient evidence.
But, he said, the charges may be reinstated and the men rearrested in future.
Traditional healer and reportedly self-confessed cannibal Nino Mbatha, Sithembiso Sithole, Lungisani Magubane and Khayelihle Lamula will, however, continue to be tried for murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Their intention to apply for bail further enraged community members who said they did not want the suspects back in the community.
A protester outside court, who did not want to be named, said they were already living in fear and the fact that some of the suspects were free to go home would worsen the situation.
“They eat people. How can you send them back to the community when we are scared of them? We don’t know what prompted them to do what they did and who is to say they won’t do it again? If the justice system won’t protect us, then we will have to protect ourselves,” he said.
As chaos erupted outside court, protesters clashed with police who used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the angry crowd. In turn, they retaliated by throwing rocks and other objects available to them.
No arrests were made. One person was reportedly injured in the chaos.
The remaining four accused will appear in court on October 27 to make a formal bail application.
The suspects were arrested at different stages following an alleged confession by Mbatha who had walked in to the local police to report that he was tired of eating human flesh.
Mbatha had been carrying a decomposing leg and arm as proof of the deed.
The remains found in Rensburgdrif in August were later identified as those of missing Zanele Hlatshwayo.
INFURIATED: Community members protest outside court.