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Burgersfort - Police at Leboeng outside Burgersfort have arrested three community members and opened cases of arson, malicious damage to property, and public violence following an alleged vigilante mob attack on suspected criminals in the area this week, Limpopo police said on Saturday.

The incident occurred in Kgautswane Makgwareng village in the Leboeng policing precinct outside Burgersfort, Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said.

"It is alleged that a group of members of the community caught three men, aged between 21 and 26, accused of being involved in the house robbery incidents after they were found in possession of suspected stolen items that were believed to be part of items stolen last month, October 2018 in the area," he said.

"Instead of informing the police and handing these suspects to them, they went to the wrong side of the law by assaulting them with various objects until the trio revealed the fourth accomplice."

Afterwards, police were summoned and they apprehended the three alleged housebreakers. The fourth identified suspect later handed himself over at Leboeng police station and "joined his accomplices". 

Subsequently, members of the community mobilised themselves, went on the rampage, and burnt down houses belonging to the suspects' parents, and two houses and a vehicle belonging to one of the suspects' sisters, Ngoepe said.

Police were summoned and managed to rescue all the victims, who were currently being kept "at a safe place".

Police opened cases of arson, malicious damage to property, and public violence "against the mob", and three suspects, aged between 33 and 41, were arrested and more arrests were expected. They would appear in the local magistrate's court soon on these charges, Ngoepe said. 

"Community members are urged not to take the law in[to] their [own] hands, and those who are still perpetrating this barbaric and irresponsible behaviour will be dealt with accordingly and without compromise," Limpopo police commissioner Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba said.

African News Agency/ANA