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Sasolburg - A 23-year-old man was in police custody after he was arrested in connection with the murder a four-year-old girl in Zamdela, Sasolburg, Free State police said on Wednesday.

Police say Thembi Mkhombeni's tiny body was found lying in a field near a cattle kraal on Saturday, September 16.

"The deceased's mother left her sleeping with her three siblings aged 7, 8 and 11 in the main house while she was in the shack with her friends. The mother alleges that she heard someone kick open the kitchen door, but did not think much of it. On Sunday morning when she went to check on the children she found that Thembi was missing," police said.

The mother was later alerted by her neighbours that her child's body was lying in a nearby field.

"The deceased tiny body had multiple stab wounds and the postmortem is still to be conducted to determine if she had been raped or not."

Police suspect she had been abducted from her bed before being killed.

Police arrested a neighbour for the murder. He was expected to appear in the Sasolburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

SA Police Service cluster commander for Zamdela, PJ Morake, applauded community members for cooperating with officers which led to the arrest of the suspect within 24 hours of finding the body while at the same time urging them to not take the law into their own hands but trust the criminal justice system.

"Without the help of the community, ruthless criminals will stay in the comfort of their homes. We should not let any criminal be comfortable in our communities. They need to be behind bars so we can prevent senseless killings like this of little Thembi," said Morake.