Three hundred villagers have admitted being cannibals after a suspected killer handed himself into police with a piece of an arm and a leg saying he had lost the taste for human flesh.
The suspect entered a police station in Estcourt, South Africa, telling shocked officers 'I'm tired of eating human flesh', as he gave up the body parts.
A trio of alleged cannibal killers aged 22, 29 and 32, were subsequently arrested, after more gruesome remains were found in a nearby house, leading to the discovery of a woman's mutilated body.
But after a meeting was held in the village of Esigodlweni, home to just 971 people, it emerged almost a third of the population had been digging up graves or eating residents.
In the aftermath of the arrests, villagers gathered in the community hall allegedly admitted tasting human flesh.
Two of the men arrested are witch doctors, or traditional healers, a third was on parole from jail.
Police are now following up reports that the cannibals robbed graves to source flesh and bones.
Ward councillor Mthembeni Majola, who held a meeting at the Esigodlweni community hall on Monday morning said that around 300 residents had confessed to visiting the two witchdoctors and knowingly eating human flesh given to them.
Mr Majola told News24 website: 'This has happened within our community.
"Families, people we know and live with have now confessed to eating this woman."
He added that community members had also allegedly confessed to digging up graves under the orders of 33 year-old Nino Mbatha, and giving him the bones.
"He told them that digging up the graves would make them strong and protect them from harm and that bringing him the bones would bring them wealth in the future."
Three men arrested by police initially allegedly raped and murdered the woman before butchering the body and eating the flesh.
Crowds of residents gathered outside Estcourt magistrates court Monday as the trio appeared on murder charges alongside a fourth man, 31, accused of possessing human flesh and tissues.
They were all remanded in custody and are due to reappear in court next week.
Stunned local councillor Mthembeni Majola said one of the suspects led community members and police to the woman's body.
"It was buried under big rocks and we had to call a machine to remove the rocks," he told News24.
"They showed us the body parts in one of the houses.
Mr Majola added that authorities fear the group had killed more victims, saying: "it cannot only be one."
"When the police were following this matter they discovered eight ears in a pot where one man was staying. That means there is much more to this."
Police spokeswoman Captain Charmaine Struwig said: "Three of the suspects face charges of murder and charges relating to the possession of human organs and tissue.
"A fourth suspect faces charges relating to the possession of human organs and tissue.
"The three suspects are alleged to have murdered a woman and then cut her body up.
"Allegations are that some consumed some of her flesh while some of her body parts were shared with the fourth suspect in Amangwe.
"Human remains were found at one crime scene in Estcourt and another crime scene at Amangwe.
"At this time only one person is suspected of having been killed and her identity is as yet unknown."
Another spokeswoman, Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, said the three main suspects were arrested on Friday night after one walked into Estcourt police station with his 'tired of eating human flesh' bombshell.
She said: 'When he was questioned, he produced part of a human leg and a hand.
'Further investigation led police to a house where they were met with a foul smell, and more human remains were found.
"A second suspect was also arrested in Estcourt and a third in the Amangwe area. More body parts were found.
"It is alleged the suspects raped, killed and cut up the body of a woman, which they then consumed."
"Muti" medicine, a term used to describe "traditional" practices in South Africa is common, and so called 'muti killings' have been reported from time to time, where people are killed for their body parts to be used by witchdoctors.
People with albinism are particularly at risk of muti killings due to the belief held by some that their body parts impart power and health to those who consume them.
Earlier this month, a man was found in Durban, 100 miles from the scene of the latest incident, with a human head in his backpack.
He was thought to be attempting to sell the head to a witchdoctor.
- Daily Mail