North West police arrested 23 Xstrata mineworkers on for demonstrating outside the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court.

Johannesburg - Three men have appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court for allegedly killing a gay man, Gauteng police said on Thursday.

Maxwell Nyathi, Mthokozisi Ndlovu and Bekithemba Maseko appeared in court on Monday, Brigadier Neville Malila said.

The matter was postponed to December 10 for further investigation. They remained in custody.

They were arrested in Yeoville on Friday and Saturday in connection with the murder of Barney van Heerden in Norwood in September 2011.

“The evidence that we have linked them to the murder,” Malila said.

On Thursday, The Star and Eyewitness News reported that Van Heerden's murder was one of eight gay killings in Gauteng that a provincial police task team was investigating.

The killers apparently gained the trust of their victims. Once invited to their homes, they killed and robbed them. According to the newspaper, rights groups had claimed for the past year that the sexual orientation of the victims resulted in lax investigations.

Malila disputed this and said there were convictions in related cases.

“The police are viewing crimes against minority groups in a serious light, and will do everything in their power to pursue justice in these cases.”

He said out of eight cases there had been two convictions, although not for murder. Two men were serving sentences after they were found in possession of items belonging to two other gay men killed in 2010 and 2011.

“In the Soweto murder of Siphiwe Nhlapo, in September 2011, the accused was convicted and is currently serving a sentence of 15

years' imprisonment for the possession of stolen property,” Malila said.

“In the Parkview murder case of Manilos Veloudes, in April 2010, the suspect has been sentenced to three years' imprisonment for the possession of stolen property.”

Malila said the killings were still being investigated. - Sapa