South Africa suspects questioned after toddler murders

Three people in South Africa have been detained over the murders of two toddlers that have sparked riots in Diepsloot township, police have said.

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Three people in South Africa have been detained over the murders of two toddlers that have sparked riots in Diepsloot township, police have said.

The bodies of two girls, aged two and three, were found dumped in community toilets on Tuesday morning after they went missing on Saturday.

Protests then broke out with residents accusing the police of failing to protect the community.

President Jacob Zuma urged people not to take the law into their own hands.

At the scene

It is a scorching hot day as I stand on the corner of Oyster Street, just a few feet from the communal toilet in which the toddlers were found dead. But it is a chilling feeling looking around the shanty town, with its unpaved roads with black sewer water running down the middle, and thinking that somewhere here lives a child murderer.

Remnants of the yellow police cordon are still flapping in the wind, watched by shocked residents sitting by the roadside.

A few streets away is the girls' home, where I spoke to one of their young mothers in mourning. She told me her daughter was a fun-loving little girl with a bubbly character. She said that those responsible must be punished - and by that she meant the death sentence.

If you ever want to see the face of poverty and high unemployment in modern day South Africa, Diepsloot is the place to come. It is the first post-apartheid shanty town. It did not exist under white minority rule and so tells a story of the long road to freedom that still needs to be travelled.

"These gruesome incidents of extreme torture and murder of our children do not belong to the society that we are continuously striving to build together," South Africa's Sowetan newspaper quoted Mr Zuma as saying.

"We condemn these murders in the strongest possible terms."

Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said three people had been taken in for questioning and that police were also searching for a fourth person, the South African Press Association reports.

He said they were also investigating a possible link between the murders and that of a five-year-old girl who was found dead in the same area in September.

"It is suspected that she was sexually violated and strangled. A suspect who was taken in for questioning relating to the murder was later released," Lt-Col Dlamini said.

According to South Africa's Star newspaper, residents in Diepsloot, a poor community north of Johannesburg, barricaded roads and burnt tyres on Tuesday.

Foreign-owned shops were looted and journalists attacked, it reported.

The two girls, who were cousins, went missing on Saturday from outside their home while playing with friends.

The BBC's Milton Nkosi in Diepsloot says the township does not have a police station and officers work from temporary shipping containers.

The tragedy has left residents in shock, he adds.

One single mother told our reporter that she fears for her young three-year-old son when she is away at work.

She is one of the very few township residents to have a job, he says.

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