CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Hardened South African police expressed shock Thursday at the gruesome and mysterious murder of six men found with their hands bound and their heads apparently crushed by rocks.
"This is the first case of such a nature," said police Capain Frederick van Wyk, appealing on radio for the public's help in tracking the killers.
An execution of this sort is a startling new development in a country inured to daily reports of violent crime.
Frightened residents of Kraaifontein, about 30km north-east of Cape Town, told reporters they had been warned away from the crime scene by police, who said they would not be able to sleep if they saw the bodies.
Photographer Sally Lottering told the South African Times newspaper: "There were slabs on top of their heads. I could see their brains coming out.
"Their hands (were) tied at their back." Bloodied rocks lay around the bodies.
Police said the six men were aged between 18 and 30 but none had been identified.
Police would not speculate on the motive for the murders, but parts of the Western Cape are notorious for gang violence.
"It looks like these guys were executed," a private security guard said. "It's like they were told to line up and were killed." "We are urging the community to get involved and help us bring the perpetrators to book," Van Wyk said.