A 91-year-old man and his 30-year-old girlfriend from Mpumalanga appeared in court this week on charges of rape and child neglect.
The elderly man faces charges of raping his partner's 11-year-old daughter, while her mother is accused of child neglect.
The couple went on the run after a good Samaritan rescued the woman's three children. Police said the siblings, aged two, five and 11, were neglected and sometimes left alone to fend for themselves.
"It all started when a concerned citizen went to a certain house in Bushbuckridge and found three children in a terrible state without parental care. The children are said to have informed the woman of their ordeal [and] indicated that their parents have been abusing them physically, emotionally and sexually. Details given by the children also revealed that the 11-year-old girl had allegedly been raped by the 91-year-old man, at times in the presence of their mother," provincial police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said.
The accused cannot be named to protect the identity of the children.
Hlathi said the woman who found the children took them to a nearby school and reported the matter to the school principal. The principal then called the police.
An investigation by the police and the Department of Social Development ensued and the children were given medical care and taken to a place of safety.
The couple was arrested last month while on the run – the man on 25 March and the mother on 30 March.
She was granted R1 000 bail on Thursday, while her boyfriend will remain in custody until his bail application.
According to Hlathi, an additional charge of accessory to rape could be added to the woman's charge sheet after the 11-year-old told police her mother knew about the rape.
The two will be back in court on 6 April.