The nine-minute long clip shows a group of people assaulting David Tsali from Mayabuleni village in Tsolo after he had been accused of stock theft.
Tsali – who is seen lying on the ground with his hand and legs bound and a bag placed over his head – is whipped with sjamboks by several people while others watch.
Villagers alleged Tsali was the mastermind behind a series of stock theft incidents in the area. The father of four died in hospital the same day from his injuries.
Mthatha police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela confirmed the arrests.
“We can confirm the arrest of the suspects. Twenty-three of them are linked to the death of David Tsali and were arrested by detectives who are investigating this case.
“All of the suspects briefly appeared in court earlier this week and were given bail of R2‚000 each‚” said Fatyela.
Tsali’s wife Khanyiswa Toyane – who has viewed the footage – said: “It’s difficult for me. That video revealed everything. It revealed how people have turned from being human beings into wild animals”.
“He’s gone and I am happy that arrests have been made but that won’t bring him back. Justice must be done. I need them to rot in jail‚” said Toyane.
The arrests come three months after Tsali’s brutal death on March 21. He had earlier in the day been summoned to a chief’s house by a group of young men. On arrival he found a large contingent of men from the village waiting for him. He was questioned and later released.
A few hours later he was asked to return and was told to bring his sheep with him as checks were going to be done to ensure they were not stolen.
“They started asking him about the stock that had been missing in the village and when he said he doesn’t know anything about that‚ they assaulted him‚” said Toyane.
The video shows residents putting old sacks over his head‚ legs and upper body. “He could not see who was assaulting him. They tied both his legs and arms and he couldn’t defend himself. He cried‚ begging for his life. They wouldn’t listen‚” said Toyane.
“He told them the truth that he knows nothing about the missing livestock but they failed to hear him.” Toyane – who described the video as “disturbing” and has since left the village fearing for her life – said none of the villagers had evidence that her unemployed husband had stolen from them.
“No one proved that he was a thief‚” she said. Tsali died later that same day at Dr Malizo Mpehle Hospital. The suspects are expected back in court on September 8 where they will face a charge of murder.