One of the members, Captain Neville Eva, told the court he intended pleading not guilty to all the charges.
Also on the provisional indictment are 14 counts of defeating the ends of justice, as well as 14 charges of unlawful possession of weapons and ammunition.
The court was packed for the bail hearings of the 20, who stand accused of being part of a hit squad.
Eva said that when the Sunday Times published an exposé alleging the existence of the hit squad, all members of the unit promised the then Independent Complaints Directorate – since renamed the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) – they would cooperate with the investigation.
“Our attitude was to assist the investigation in any way possible.”
Eva said the members were ordered to hand in their weapons, laptops and cellphones earlier this year.
They were also instructed not to take on any new cases, but to continue with pending cases.
Eva, a veteran of 27 years, said if they had intended to tamper with evidence, they had had six months in which to do so.
IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed the 20 were arrested on Wednesday in a joint operation by the Hawks and the IPID.
Protesters supporting the 20 men stood outside the court building with placards.
People had to stand outside the court in the hallway, because there was insufficient space for supporters and families of the accused, while police monitored the crowds inside and outside the building.
Magistrate Sharon Marks threatened to have the people removed if they did not keep quiet. – Sapa