priest held for selling body parts

A PRIEST and mortuary worker were arrested after being found in possession of human body parts.

The Zion Apostolic Church priest and a casual worker for at least two mortuaries were arrested after police were called to the home of a sangoma in Acornhoek, where they found a white woman's breast and hand on Saturday.

The drama, which the police believe will lead to the arrest of more people, started when the priest tried to sell the body parts to the sangoma at Greenvalley Trust.

The sangoma pretended to be preparing money to buy the body parts but instead called the police and told them about what the 48-year-old priest had tried to sell him.

The police immediately arrested the priest and confiscated the body parts, which they took to the government mortuary while investigations continue.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi said further investigations led the police to a 35-year-old casual worker of the Doves and Tswelopele funeral undertakers. He confessed that he was responsible for removing parts of at least five bodies while dressing the bodies for cremation.

Hlathi said the police arrested the casual worker who, with the priest, opted to take the police to all the places where they had sold the body parts.

"There is only one meaning to this: this is the work of a syndicate and many people will still be arrested," Hlathi said. "We believe we have broken the syndicate's chain and we will not rest until all the pieces of the mystery would have been collected."

He said he did not know what the body parts were to be used for but could not rule out the possibility of muti.