The suspects appeared in the Acornhoek Magistrate’s Court on Thursday where they faced charges of kidnapping and assault.
Police had raided the ‘torture house’ on the outskirts of Acornhoek in Bushbuckridge on Wednesday, where victims were believed to have been ‘punished’.
Residents in the area were said to have reported crimes to the group of vigilantes instead of the police. It has also emerged that alleged criminals in the area were forced to ‘confess’ that they were involved in unlawful activities.
A 16-year-old boy told The Lowvelder that he had been tried in the makeshift court in the house for sniffing glue.
The boy, who had been imprisoned in the house for four months, said his captors tortured him by chaining him up and whipping him.
He said the suspects put their captives into holes dug in the ground around the house.
The Mpumalanga agriculture, rural development and land administration department was said to be the legal owner of the house, which was bulldozed on the day of the raid.
Not a ‘banana republic’
Provincial community safety MEC Vusi Shongwe said his department would investigate how the suspects had managed to obtain use of house.
He also stressed that no one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands, as “the country has a competent criminal justice system.”
“We are not a banana republic. Anyone who witnesses crime should report it to the police and not take the law into their own hands,” he said.
Shongwe called on the municipality and the public works, roads and transport department to consider renting buildings for either business or residential purposes.
Police said the people who had been kept imprisoned on the property were placed in witness protection.