In Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe (South Africa), the bodies of five people were discovered between August 28 and September 4, 2023. The bodies were gutted and some organs and body parts were removed.
All of the victims were young homeless people and all had the characteristic head injuries that were the primary cause of death.
It may seem like the plot of a cheap horror movie or an urban legend – a maniac hunts homeless people for human meat, but for Zimbabweans it has become a cruel reality.
On September 4, police captured 20-year-old Thandolwenkosi Ndlovu on suspicion of a series of mass murders and cannibalism, which Ndlovu immediately admitted to, saying that yes, he had killed and eaten human flesh.
True, he later retracted his words, saying that he made a confession under pressure, but the police have serious evidence against him – someone noticed Ndlovu when he tried to cut off the genitals of his last victim.
When he was scared, he ran away, but the police soon found him and arrested him. It is stated that Ndlovu killed homeless people using heavy cobblestones.
He would sneak up on the intended victim and hit him on the head with a stone. Then, with a piece of glass, he would rip open the stomach and pull out the internal organs, cut off the genitals and sometimes arms or legs, so that he could then fry them over the fire and eat them.
Ndlovu had no problem killing five people in just eight days, since he himself was homeless and did not arouse suspicion among other vagabonds.
It is also reported that before he began killing people in Harare, Ndlovu was involved in the deaths of three people in his hometown of Bulawayo. And he even managed to serve two terms in prison.
When someone began to brutally kill and eat homeless people in Harare, there was great panic among them. In an attempt to save their lives, homeless people began to gather in large groups at night. Some even hastened to flee the city.
“I’m lucky to be alive, but I could have been dead already. Just imagine being roasted at the stake. He was arrested, but I’m still afraid. The streets are no longer safe,” says 16-year-old tramp Panashe Uchena.
According to Uchena, he personally saw the remains of the cannibal’s victims, who were lying on the ground without several body parts. Many of Harare’s homeless are teenagers and young adults under 25, like the killer himself.
“It was scary, especially when I saw the dead bodies of the victims. There was blood everywhere, everything was leaking out. I don’t know what came over him (Ndlovu),” says Uchena .
Another vagabond, 17-year-old Blessing Maungwa, said that while Ndlovu’s arrest had brought them relief, they were now afraid to continue living on the streets.
“When we lost one of us, we thought the killer was some visiting cultist. And it was a hard week for us when we found out that more homeless people had been killed. The streets turned into hell. We didn’t know who would next. We could only trust in God,” he said.
He is echoed by another young street child named Prosper: “We live in fear of being attacked because of the brutal killings and since then we have been sleeping in groups to protect ourselves. He [Ndlovu] should stay in prison and not come out because we are so scared.”
Meanwhile, George Kandiero, president of the National Association of Traditional Healers of Zimbabwe, suggested that Ndlovu may have killed for ritual purposes.
“It could be a result of madness or he was convinced that he would get some kind of power from it [eating human flesh]. It’s definitely on the dark side, and it’s something that’s not clear.”