The body of a nine-year-old girl who had been kidnapped was found in the Klein Modder River in Botshabelo, Free State on Friday.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thandi Mbambo said the events that led up to the discovery of little Tariro Jonasi's body started on 7 March.
The child's mother reported to the police that her boyfriend walked away with Tariro when she went to the police to report that he had assaulted her. She told the police that Tariro had been kidnapped and an alert was issued.
At about 23:00 on 11 March, local residents found the man on the N8, dragged him to a nearby field and allegedly assaulted him.
The police were alerted at about 04:00 the following day and found the badly injured man.
SEARCHED RIVER FOR DAYS
"He told the police that he dumped the body of the girl in the river, then later died in hospital," Mbambo added.
Police divers searched the area for days until a passer-by saw Tariro's body floating in the river in Botshabelo.
Her mother identified her.
A post-mortem examination will be conducted on Tuesday to determine the cause of her death.
Police have opened an inquest docket as they probe Tariro's death. They are investigating a murder case in connection with the attack on the man.
"The acting [police] commissioner, Major General Solly Lesia, called on the community to refrain from taking the law into their own hands as it jeopardises the investigation of cases," Mbambo said.