The body of nine-year-old Boipelo Mesi, who was reported missing over a week ago, was found inside a shack not far from her home in Kroonstad in the Free State on Saturday afternoon, police said.
Police spokesperson Brig Motantsi Makhele said the little girl from Gelukwaarts was reported missing on September 1.
The mother said that her daughter was playing with friends when she disappeared.
On Saturday, children who were playing in the street noticed a “bad smell” coming from a shack near Mesi’s home and alerted community members.
“They went to the shack and found it locked, forced entry and opened the wardrobe where the smell was coming from and found the body of Boipelo and then alerted the police.
“While busy at the scene it is alleged that the owner of the shack appeared and was attacked by the community,” he said.
Makhele said police who tried to intervene were also attacked.
Police managed to rescue the man from the “volatile situation”, but he was later declared dead.
“We appeal to the community to be calm and give the family time to mourn the loss of their daughter,” provincial commissioner Lt-Gen Baile Motswenyane said.