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Acornhoek - Seventeen people, including the leader of the Bushbuckridge Residents’ Association (BRA), appeared in a Mpumalanga court on Monday on charges of kidnapping and assault, police said.
“The leader of BRA, Delta Mokoena, handed himself over to the police this morning,” Sergeant Gerald Sedibe said.
Nine were granted R1 000 bail each and their case was postponed to August 14 in the Acornhoek Magistrate's Court.
The other eight co-accused, including Mokoena, were denied bail and would remain in custody, Sedibe said.
“The eight will be back in court on July 22,” he said.
Mokoena has a string of cases related to vigilantism and intimidation.
Last year, Mokoena was sentenced by the same court to three years' jail for intimidation. He was granted leave to appeal his sentence.
Sedibe said Mokoena also faced separate cases involving arson and kidnapping.
The group is accused of kidnapping suspected criminals, subjecting them to a “kangaroo court”, and assaulting them.
Police said six of their victims, who were placed in a witness protection programme, told how they were taken to several places and beaten.
Their assailants reportedly operated from an unoccupied government building. Other victims were allegedly forced to agree they were involved in crime.
Some residents in the area apparently reported crimes to the group rather than to the police.
The BRA won 1.2 percent of the vote in Mpumalanga during the May general elections. The party secured a seat in the provincial legislature.