Two alleged rapists, one of whom is alleged to have raped a three-year-old toddler and the other a 73-year-old woman, have been arrested in two separate incidents this week, North West police said on Sunday.

In the first incident in Ventersdorp, the three-year-old victim was allegedly raped by a family member on Wednesday, Colonel Adéle Myburgh said.

“The victim was accompanied by the 30-year-old male suspect in the street when they met with another female family member. The child started crying and wanted to go with the female, who took her back home. On their way home the child indicated that she was hurting. The police were informed and the child taken to the clinic for medical attention,” she said.

Police arrested the suspect the same day. He had appeared in the Ventersdorp Magistrate’s Court on Friday and would remain in custody until his next court.

In the second, unrelated incident, a 73-year-old women was walking home after visiting a family member in Motswendi, near Zeerust, at about 8pm on Wednesday, August 1. She was allegedly grabbed from behind, thrown on the ground, and raped by a 44-year-old suspect, Myburgh said.

The victim reported the incident to the police the next morning and the suspect was arrested by police shortly afterwards on Thursday. He would appear in the Lehurutshe Magistrate’s Court on Monday, she said.

North West police commissioner Lt-Gen Baile Motswenyane expressed shock at these incidents. The community had a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of society, including small children and the elderly. She urged the community to continue to work together with police to protect the vulnerable and to prevent, and to report, any form of abuse at their nearest police station.