A 4-year-old boy is reportedly the victim of cannibalism.
Kamvelihle Ngala went missing the day after Easter, reports SABC News. He was allegedly abducted by an uncle who is accused of skinning him then drinking his blood and eating his heart.
His grandmother Nontuthuezelo Gwanya, 70, discovered the murder scene at her nephew's house. "I thought a pig had been slaughtered there was so much blood and then I saw the hand of my small boy and pieces of meat," she explained, reports the Daily Mail. Her nephew "confessed to me that he had eaten the child's flesh," she added.
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According to neighbors, the boy's ribs were on a sideboard and his skull had been skinned and split in half, with the remains of his brain next to a salt shaker.
Family spokesperson Nosidima Xakana added this vivid description of the scene:
The body of Kamva was on the floor cut to pieces. It was a scene like when one slaughters a sheep for a ritual. The body was carefully skinned and so was the skull which was away from the child's body. He told the villagers and police he drunk Kamva's blood and ate his heart and brains. The skull was clean with eyes gouged out and skin taken away. This was like slaughtering sheep or goat for a ritual. A liver was in another dish with one hand.
When police arrived, they arrested 30-year-old Mandisi Gwanya inside his blood-soaked home and recovered many body parts from the boy. He was taken into custody and charged with murder in KwaNtsila village, Eastern Province, South Africa.
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The suspect had recently been released after serving seven years in prison for murder, said police spokesman Capt. Nozuko Handile.
Although human cannibalism is uncommon in modern times, archaeologists have traced it back 800,000 years, reports National Geographic. But the motivation for the practice is not well understood.
“When you compare us to other animals, we’re not very nutritional at all,” notes archaeologist James Cole. He theorizes that there was a mix of motivations, including warfare, survival, spiritual beliefs and psychosis.
Anthropologist Erik Trinkaus thinks the need for a dietary supplement might have been a factor in past civilizations. “The issue is not one of nutrition as an alternative to large game. It is an issue of survival when there are no other food sources, members of one's social group have died, and the surviving members consume the bodies of already dead people.”
Biologist Bill Schutt summarizes: "Cannibalism is extremely widespread in the animal kingdom. What makes us different are the rituals, the culture, the taboos. We’ve been patterned to believe that cannibalism is the worst thing you could do."