, Johannesburg, South Africa, Sep 28 – Seven men suspected of cannibalism appeared in a South African court on Thursday, with one of the accused reportedly wanting to plead guilty to charges that have shocked the country.
Angry residents gathered outside the courthouse in the rural town of Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal province, as the case was adjourned until October 12.
Five people were initially arrested last month in Estcourt and two more have since been held.
“This is a very complex case, and more investigation is being conducted,” prosecution spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson told AFP.
The accused, all in their 30s, are charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and possession of human parts.
One of the accused is said to be a traditional healer.
The Times Live website reported that defence attorney Thandeka Hadebe told the court that one of the men, who was not identified, intended to plead guilty.
The accused complained to the court that they had been physically assaulted while in custody.
The first suspect was arrested on August 18 after he handed himself in to a police station while carrying a bag containing a human leg and a hand, telling officers he was “tired of eating human flesh”.
His statement led the police to a house where more body parts were found.
The suspects have waived their right to apply for bail.
Protesters outside the courthouse chanted slogans demanding justice.
“They must rot in jail, our children are now scared of going to school,” one protester said.
South Africa has no direct law against cannibalism, but mutilating a corpse and being in possession of human tissue are criminal offences.