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The Mozambican police in the western city of Tete have arrested a man accused of cannibalism, after local people found him in possession of the cooked flesh of a child, whose body he had dug up from a cemetery in the outlying Tete neighbourhood of Chimadzi.
The grisly discovery infuriated the crowd who wanted to lynch the cannibal. He was rescued by the police.
The Tete provincial police spokesperson, Lurdes Ferreira, named the man as Rui Foia, and confirmed that both he and a local gravedigger, Joao Buino, have been arrested.
Ferreia said the police found two saucepans containing cooked body parts of the exhumed child, including ribs, legs and arms. Foia was also in possession of clothing and photographs stolen from graves.
“These are indications that may prove the involvement of Rui Foia in desecrating graves”, she said.
Foia is believed to suffere from mental illness, which some of his neighbours in Chimadzi blame on excessive consumption of cannabis (although there is no scientific evidence that this drug can cause mental illess). Others said he had refused to obey instructions from witchdoctors which would supposedly cure him of his illness.
“We will have to contact the health authorities”, said Ferreira, “so that they can help us discover whether Foia really suffers from mental illness”.
Foia’s grave-robbing was discovered two weeks after ten graves, nine of them of children and one of an adult, were vandalised in the Chimadzi cemetery.
He was drinking pombe (a traditional alcoholic drink) in the house of a woman to whom he offered meat out of one of his saucepans. When the woman saw the hand and ribs of a child in the saucepan she was horrified and sought help to detain Foia.
A crowd gathered and wanted to lynch him on the spot. The police aborted this attempt and took Fia to the police cells.