In total darkness, with a four-month-old girl in tow, a seven-year-old boy from Ceres managed to find his way home after having been raped in the early hours of Saturday.
The man who allegedly raped them has been arrested, the Western Cape police said on Tuesday.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said the 32-year-old man had been taken into custody and questioned in Ceres on Monday night.
The suspect was expected to appear in court soon.
A task team comprising various police units was created to investigate the rapes.
Traut clarified that the children were not siblings as previously reported.
At a press conference held at the Ceres police station on Tuesday, provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer said the rapes were “shocking and disgusting” and they were doing everything in their power to make sure they uncovered the truth.
Lamoer said the top detectives, tactical response team, dog units and the family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit were working on the case.
The four-month-old was at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, where she has had reconstructive surgery, while the seven-year-old had been released into his mother’s care.
Lamoer said the child would not be taken away from his mother or be put in a witness protection programme because the police and the local Community Policing Forum (CPF) were sure he was safe with his parents.
Jan van der Merwe, CPF chairman in the area, said he had been impressed by the response from the police who had been working day and night to solve the case. He added that residents were shocked and angry following the incident.
“We feel that he must stay in jail or residents are going to kill him…
“This is a small town and this is the first time we are dealing with a child rape case like this in the community,” Van der Merwe said.
A short drive from the police station lies Vredebos Farm, where the alleged rape happened.
A dirt road leads from the main road to a row of wendy houses where residents were standing along the street while children played not far away.
Behind the wendy houses is a vineyard where it is alleged that the man took the two children to rape them.
But the wendy house in which the seven-year-old’s family live, stood empty on Tuesday.
Resident Lilian Mentoor said the seven-year-old’s family had lived on the farm for a number of years. The four-month-old’s family were visitors.
Another resident, Mietjie Lambert, said they did not know the man who is alleged to have raped the two children.
“No one knows this guy. We have never seen him before.”
On Saturday morning, Mentoor said, they were woken by police vans and investigators at the scene.
Witzenberg mayor Jacques Klazen and his deputy, Karriem Adams, visited the farm on Tuesday. The area was plagued by drug and alcohol abuse, Klazen said.
Lamoer and his team, which included deputy police commissioner General Peter Jacobs, arrived to show the media the area where the incident happened.
A footpath behind the wendy houses leads to the vineyard which is about 100m from the homes. The police stopped at a ditch where they said some of the baby’s clothes had been found.
Jacobs said that the seven-year-old was brave because he managed to find his way back home, with the four-month-old, and alerted his parents to what had happened.
Back at the wendy houses, Klazen said he wanted to build a crèche for the children on the farm.