A cannibal walks into a police station holding a human leg, and what happened next is no joke.
In South Africa, a man was sentenced to life in prison for killing a woman for her body parts and then making a grisly confession to police officers. As the Independent reported, a man named Nino Mbatha confessed to the murder by walking into a police station holding a dismembered piece of the deceased woman and telling them he no longer wanted to be a cannibal.
As the report noted, it was also a shock to police who heard the man’s confession.
“Two police officers listening to the healer’s story did not believe him as he appeared unstable, the judge said. But Mbatha then produced a human hand and leg from his bag,” the report noted. “A team of investigators later traveled to the 33-year-old’s house, where they discovered more body parts.”
This week, a court in the city of Pietermaritzburg found that Mbatha and another man were guilty of murder in what Judge Peter Olsen called “the most heinous crime” he had ever seen.
As the Washington Post reported last year, the man’s confession to police prompted an investigation that led to the arrest of five people for possessing body parts. Two others claimed that they were traditional healers, like Mbatha.
Police said they believe the men were part of a larger syndicate of cannibals who collected body parts to eat and for traditional healing rituals. Some of the body parts were even sold to others, the BBC reported.
“It is believed they were to be served to his customers, who were told they had magic properties and would convey money, power and protection,” the BBC report noted.
The arrests led to protests from local residents, with crowds gathering outside the courtroom to speak out against the traditional healing ceremonies while holding signs that read, “No to cannibalism.” There had reportedly been tensions in parts of South Africa as some, especially in more rural areas, cling to traditional beliefs that often come into conflict with modernization. As the World Health Organization reported, there are more than 200,000 traditional healers in South Africa and they are the first stop for patients in 80 percent of cases.
Despite the confession, the cannibal was found not guilty of possessing the dead woman’s body parts. The judge ruled that this charge duplicated his murder charge, so he was acquitted.