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Man says former co-worker thrown to lions

From Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Farm owner Mark Scott-Crossley, right, is led away by authorities.
South African employer Mark Scott-Crossley, right, is led away by authorities.

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A South African man is jailed on suspicion of feeding a co-worker to the lions.
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Crime, Law and Justice
South Africa

HOEDSPRUIT, South Africa (CNN) -- A South African farm laborer said his white employer strangled a former black employee, then held a gun to his head and forced him and two colleagues to throw his dismissed co-worker's lifeless body to lions.

Workers at the Mokwalo White Lion Project on Sunday found a skull, a leg bone and some blood-soaked clothes, all that police say they think remains of Nelson Chisale, 38, a father of three.

Police are holding three men on suspicion of dumping Chisale's body into an enclosure with lions at a lion-breeding operation in the northeastern part of the country. On Tuesday, authorities released a fourth man, Robert Mnisi, 34, after he agreed to cooperate with the prosecution.

Authorities have filed provisional murder charges against building contractor Mark Scott-Crossley, 34, and two farm workers -- Simon Mathebula, 43, and Richard Mathebula, 41. Police await the results of DNA tests on the remains, which could take several weeks.

A judge Tuesday postponed a bail hearing for the men. The next scheduled hearing is March 30 and 31.

Mnisi said Tuesday that Scott-Crossley strangled Chisale and then ordered him to throw the body to the lions at a breeding facility several miles from the farm where they were working. The farm laborer spoke to CNN from a holding cell before he was released.

"Then he say to me, 'Doctor pick it up [Chisale's body] and throw it in the lions,' " said Mnisi, who said Scott-Crossley put a gun to his head when he objected. "He say, 'Hey, if you don't want to listen to me, I'll shoot you. Get inside there.' "

The half-eaten body was found in the Project's lion pit.
The skull and bones of a man were found in an enclosure for lions.

Scott-Crossley recently fired Chisale, and police said they think Chisale was assaulted when he returned to the farm to collect his personal belongings. Earlier, Chisale filed charges, accusing Scott-Crossley of burning clothes the worker had left at the farm.

Also in a holding cell, Scott-Crossley said Tuesday he welcomes the media attention the case is receiving.

"So, you must follow it to the end so that once the truth is out, there's no sweeping anything under the carpet," he said.

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