Angry members of the crime-ridden Marite community between Hazyview and Bushbuckridge, stormed a police station demanding the release of three young men.
The three were arrested in connection with the killing of Tshwarelo Mashego, 30, who was crucified like the thief in the biblical account of Jesus.
Mashego, who was facing a string of cases in various police stations, including Bushbuckridge and Calcutta, had been released on bail on Thursday last week. But his release angered the community.
"We were all in fear of this man so we ganged up against him and permanently removed him from society. All this because a magistrate without a heart had had the guts to return him to us so that he could continue with his criminal activities," said a resident who sought anonymity.
Police at the Calcutta police station in Mkhuhlu were busy when a crowd of people burst into the office and demanded the release of the three on Sunday night.
They told the police that the young men were pupils who were supposed to sit for exams yesterday and should be released immediately.
Sowetan has reliably been told that a Superintendent Ndinisa, head of investigations at the police station, asked the crowd to elect four leaders to talk to him.
The four subsequently went back to the crowd and asked their supporters to disperse peacefully because the police had promised to "do something about the situation".
The three were arrested after police found that Mashego, been had nailed to a cross and his body thrown into a dam on Saturday afternoon.