In Brief

'I'm tired of eating human flesh' South African cannibal tells police

Four men appear in court on suspicion of murder after one hands himself in to the authorities

Four men have appeared in court in South Africa after a cannibal handed himself in to a police station, presenting officers with a woman’s leg and hand and telling them: "I am tired of eating human flesh."

The man allegedly then led police to three other suspects, one of whom was thought to be a witch doctor.

The remains of one woman have been recovered and police are looking at whether the group might be responsible for other cases of missing people in the largely rural area of KwaZulu-Natal.

Three of the men appeared in the court in the town of Estcourt charged with murder and possession of human organs and tissue. A fourth suspect is charged solely with possessing human organs and tissue. 

A police spokesperson told the BBC that it is possible that the four suspects are part of a bigger syndicate.

Cannibalism in itself is not a crime in South Africa, but murder, mutilating a corpse and being in possession of human tissue are all criminal offences.

Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, a police spokeswoman, confirmed that one of those detained had confessed to cannibalism and suggested there was more than one victim.

"It is alleged that the suspects raped, killed and cut up the body of a woman, which they then consumed. The allegations by the suspect are that they would rape and kill the victims before they could cut them into pieces and eat their parts," she told the South African website News24.

"Cases of cannibalism are rare in South Africa but belief in traditional medicine remains common in rural areas," says The Times.

"Some witch doctors convince their clients that the use of body parts, particularly those of bald men, in medicine can bring them health and wealth."

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