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Nelspruit - South African Police Service (SAPS) officers in Nelspruit have arrested a 35-year-old man in connection with the rape of a four-year-old girl and her 28-year-old mother, Mpumalanga police said on Sunday.

"The suspect, who is on parole for a murder case, was arrested on Friday, 27 December 2019 after being cornered by police at his hiding place at a township in Machadodorp and is expected to appear before court," SAPS Mpumalanga spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said in a statement on Sunday.

It was reported that the man went to visit the pair on Thursday this past week and was granted access to the house. 

"Moments later he produced a knife, threatened the mother of the girl, directed her and her daughter to one of the rooms and allegedly raped both of them."

Police were later alerted about the incident by a neighbour who became suspicious after seeing the suspect "fleeing from the house. The police immediately rushed to the house and confirmed the details of the incident".

"Subsequent to police arrival, two cases of rape were opened. Detectives from family violence, child protection, and sexual offences unit (FCS) were immediately activated and tasked to investigate the two cases," he said. 

Both victims were taken to hospital for medical assistance. The suspect had since been arrested and would appear in the Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday. "Police cannot rule out the possibility of this man's parole to be revoked," Hlathi said.

Mpumalanga police commissioner Lt-Gen Mondli Zuma applauded members of the public for the information that they provided which had led to the arrest of the suspect. He also thanked police for their sterling work and prompt arrest of the suspect.

Zuma also expressed his disappointment "at the actions of the suspect, who was given a second chance by being granted parole as an opportunity to correct his ways and do something good in his community".

"What this suspect did is so disappointing, especially at the time when we, as a country, are doing all that we can to curb gender-based violence.

"This suspect was supposed to be an ambassador of change, teaching other men out there that violence against women and children can no longer be tolerated. Instead he showed that he is not fit to be living among the community. We hope that justice will prevail and our wish is that after conviction he gets the maximum sentence so that women will live freely without fear of being raped," Zuma said.

African News Agency (ANA)