Police in Harare are investigating the deaths of five homeless men in less than a week, believed to be victims of a lone serial killer.

Some of the bodies were opened up and had parts missing, suggesting there could be a ritualistic motive to the killings.

On Monday, police recovered the bodies of two men near the Simon Mazorodze Flyover not far from Mupedzanhamo. Some internal organs had been removed.

The first body was found on August 28 at the corner of Simon Muzenda and George Silundika. The body of a man believed to be in his 30s had been dismembered, with the penis missing.

On September 1, police were called to a location near First Capital Bank at the corner of Innez Terrace Road and Robert Mugabe. There they found the body of a man, believed to be a vagrant. He had horrific head injuries.

Two days later, at about 11.30AM on September 3, investigators responded to reports of a dead body on a flight of stairs of a building at Nelson Mandela and 7th Street in the Avenues area.

Witnesses said the victim was a homeless man who sometimes slept on the stairs where he was found. He is thought to have met his death after being hit on the head with a large stone. His body was covered with white sacks. He had bruises on his stomach and a cut in his privates.

Ritualistic killings … Human body parts including a liver lying a few meters from where the bodies of two homeless men were found near Mupedzanhamo in Harare. A bloodied concrete block, thought to have been used as murder weapon, is also visible. The clay pot belonged to the victims

Police made a new grim discovery on Monday when they were called to an area close to the Simon Mazorodze Road flyover. Two homeless men had been found dead, with one’s stomach ripped open. The other also had a stomach incision. Nearby, police found internal body parts including a liver.

Detectives believe the murders are the work of a single serial killer preying on vulnerable homeless men.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was attending the presidential inauguration when asked to comment.