The brutal killing of a KwaBhaca woman has reopened old wounds for her family, who have yet to fully recover from three previous tragic deaths.
Thembisa Masumpa, 35, of Mpungutyana village was beheaded and her flesh eaten in the latest incident of alleged cannibalism in the Eastern Cape.
Her alleged killer was caught in the act and arrested.
Masumpa’s grandmother Nomakhalipa Masumpa told journalists her father had disappeared and was never found.
“His mystery [disappearance] followed the death of my daughter, whose body was found in a river. My daughter was with her child, who was never found.
“This reopens all that pain – that yet another loved one is now killed,” the distraught grandmother said.
She said while they were still struggling to come to terms with Thembisa’s shocking murder, they did not know how they would bury her.
The mother of the alleged 23-year-old cannibal, who called the police after witnessing the gruesome killing, broke down in tears when she spoke about her son.
“I never raised a son like this one. I never imagined this,” said the heartbroken mother before requesting the media to give the family some time.
She is not being named as her son has not yet appeared in court.
He was eventually shot three times by the police after he allegedly charged at them with the blood-stained knife he used to kill Thembisa.
He also allegedly attacked a female doctor at the Nelson Mandela Central Hospital in Mthatha at the emergency unit minutes after being admitted.
Umzimvubu mayor Bulelwa Mabengu said: “I believe that drugs and substance abuse was a major contributing factor and yearn to call upon law authorities to show a more proactive visibility in our area.
“The municipality will, however, be having more private consultation sessions with the families of the victim and the alleged [killer] to assist them in dealing with the ordeal.”
An eyewitness told of how Thembisa briefly cried and pleaded for her life while her attacker butchered her.
They said the screams will haunt them for a long time.
“She did not say much, but cried pleading for the man to let her go, but he pinned her down and cut off her head before starting to eat her flesh.”
Another eyewitness said the 23-year-old attacked Thembisa after a fight with his mother over her car keys.
“Before the killing, Thembisa said she was scared and wanted to go home because [the youth] was fighting with his mother.
“As she was on her way out of the yard, he grabbed her, cut off her head and started eating her flesh,” the witness said.
Another said: “I never in my life saw a human being feeding on the flesh of another human being. This was bad. It was as if I was watching a horror movie.”
Neighbours and tenants at the 23-year-old’s home said the alleged cannibal dropped out of Fort Hare University because of a drug addiction, and that he was sent to a rehabilitation centre but absconded.
He was described as a quiet young man, an introvert, but violent when high.
“His parents feared that he could harm himself or others. When he is high, he would threaten his parents. We were expecting that one day he might injure himself or others, but we never expected him to be feasting on the flesh of another human being,” one of the witnesses said.
Nelson Mandela Central Hospital medical director Dr Mpumzi Mdledle said the man was admitted on Saturday with bullet wounds to his arm, leg and abdomen.
“An emergency operation was performed to remove a bullet. He is in now in a critical condition in the ICU,” he said.
Mdledle said when the patient arrived at the hospital he was still violent and had attacked a female doctor.
“The doctor has been given time off due to the trauma.” — firstname.lastname@example.org