Toddler deaths spark outrage in South Africa

Johannesburg, Oct 16 (IANS) The deaths of two toddlers whose bodies were found in a public toilet in Diepsloot township north of Johannesburg has sparked outrage in the country.

President Jacob Zuma added his voice to the condemnation of the atrocity Tuesday, expressing "shock and dismay" at the murder, Xinhua reported.

The bodies of the two toddlers, aged two and three years old, were discovered early in the morning by a resident of Diepsloot township. They had been missing since Saturday.

In another incident, the body of an estimated four to six-year-old boy was found in a field in Katlehong in East Rand of Johannesburg earlier this month, with evidence of torture and abuse before he met his cruel death.

"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," Zuma said in a statement.

"We condemn these murders in the strongest possible terms. Whilst we appeal to the communities not to take the matters into their hands, we also want to urge them to work with law enforcement authorities to find the perpetrators and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," said Zuma.

Residents in Diepsloot took to the streets Monday in protest against violence against children. The protesters urged the government to act immediately to stop such atrocities.

A large contingent of police officers have been sent to the area to control the situation. No violence was reported.

Police have launched an investigation into the deaths of the two toddlers, who were believed to be strangled.

Police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said it was not clear how the children were killed.

Police could not rule out a possible case of a serial killer targeting children.

Zuma conveyed, on behalf of the government and the nation, deepest condolences to the families and the communities. "May the children's souls rest in peace," said the president.

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