Three men were beaten to death in a mob justice incident in the early hours of Sunday morning in Ga-Wally village in the Mokwakwaila policing area outside Tzaneen, Limpopo.
Police said the trio were targeted allegedly by community members after an elderly woman cried for help.
"Preliminary police investigations revealed that this brutal attack follows a chain of events that commenced at around midnight when an intruder allegedly got into a house of an elderly woman. The woman reportedly screamed for help and community members of the said village consequently mobilized, hunted down the intruder until they caught three unknown middle aged men," said police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo.
"After accusing them of being responsible for house robberies in the area, the three were then brutally assaulted with various objects."
Police officials were unable to rescue the men from the assault.
"The police responded swiftly to the frantic calls emanating from the area but on arrival, they were met by gruesome scenes of blood spattered area and three badly assaulted people lying dead. At that time, the crowd had already dispersed," Mojapelo said.
This incident was condemned by Limpopo provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba who ordered an immediate investigation and further called for all those responsible to be hunted "as a matter of urgency".
"The police will be merciless in dealing with any people who take the law into their own hands by attacking people they suspect of being criminals. Community members are urged to desist from these attacks and should instead call the police to effect arrests," Ledwaba said.