Three men, accused of murder and eating human flesh, have been arrested and produced in Estcourt Magistrate's Court, about 175km (110 miles) north-west of Durban in South Africa on Monday (21 August).
The men were arrested in the rural KwaZulu-Natal Midlands after one of them reportedly walked into a police station, saying he "was tired of eating human flesh". The man also produced part of a human leg and hand as evidence.
As part of the investigation, police searched a house nearby where more human remains were found. Two men were arrested on Friday night, one of whom was believed to be a "izinyanga" (medicine man). The three suspects are believed to be in their thirties, local news agency reported.
Police Spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said that the men had allegedly raped and killed a woman, cut her into pieces and ate parts of her body. The men now face murder and cannibalism charges.
Mbhele added that police are investigating if the accused had murdered other people. "We urge those who have family relatives missing to come forward so that samples can be taken to perform DNA tests," she said.
The former head of the South African Police Service(SAPS) specialised Investigative Psychology Section, Professor Gérard Labuschagne said that the probability of this case being a multi-related crime was low. He said the allegations of cannibalism did not fit the profile of the case.
"It's very rare and unusual to get a case where people are actually eating human body parts - animal bites are often mistaken for human bites. But when people are eating human body parts, it's more likely got to do with a mental health issue," IOL news quoted Labuschagne as saying.
"They are usually experiencing audio and/or visual hallucinations - hearing voices or seeing things that aren't there - and having bizarre thoughts like 'I must eat this body part as it will make me powerful'," he said, adding that people who are into cannibalism often suffer psychological problems.
Labuschagne said the idea that this was a group crime was strange. "You do sometimes get a group of people, where one is mentally ill - sort of like a cult leader - and his followers have dependency issues. It's very, very rare though."