A man has been arrested for raping a four-month-old baby and a seven-year-old boy in Ceres, in South Africa's Western Cape.

The children were taken from a house in the early hours of the morning, while their parents were still asleep.

Earlier reports had suggested the children were siblings, but this has been denied by police. It is thought the baby and her family were visiting the parents of the seven-year-old boy.

Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer said they believed the man had been staying on a farm nearby and was known to the family.

The baby was taken to the Red Cross Children's Hospital where she will have reconstructive surgery. It is thought she will be in hospital for a long time due to the injuries she sustained, according to the Independent Online.

Hospital spokeswoman Lauren O'Connor-May said: "[The little girl] was admitted early on Saturday morning and underwent different surgeries, she has been in the theatre twice already."

'Sick society'

The boy was also taken to hospital but has now been discharged into the care of his mother. He had carried the baby back to his home and alerted his parents about the attack, deputy police commissioner-general Peter Jacobs said.

Before the 32-year-old man was arrested, Lamoer said: "As you can see, there is a sick society outside. Some men can't take the responsibility and we need to make sure this person is arrested."

Speaking to Times Live, he branded the attack as "shocking and disgusting", adding that "an SAPS task team has been set up to investigate this ruthless attack on two minors. We will go to great lengths to ensure the perpetrator is brought to book."

The man is being held in custody and is expected to appear in court soon.

Jan van der Merwe, the local Community Policing Forum chairman, said local residents were extremely angry and that the man was being kept behind bars for his own safety.

"We feel that he must stay in jail or residents are going to kill him ... This is a small town and this is the first time we are dealing with a child rape case like this in the community."