Two pastors have been arrested in two separate incidents of rape involving minor girls in Phalaborwa, a town in South Africa's Limpopo province, police said on Sunday (22 October).

In the first case, a 52-year-old pastor was arrested for allegedly raping his 14-year-old half-sister, Lt-Col Moatshe Ngoepe of the Limpopo police said, according to The Citizen news website.

"It is alleged that the victim started living with the suspect and his wife since she was three years old following the death of her mother. The suspect, who is a pastor at a local church, allegedly started raping the victim when she was 11 years old up to date until the victim reported the matter to the police, who immediately started tracing the suspect and arrested him," Ngoepe stated.

The pastor will appear in court on Monday (23 October) to face rape and sexual assault charges.

In another case, a 46-year-old pastor appeared in court after being arrested for raping his 14-year-old stepdaughter. He has been remanded in custody with no bail and for further police investigation until 26 October, Ngoepe said.

"It is alleged that the suspect raped his 14-year-old stepdaughter at a village near Namakgale township. The gruesome discovery was made by the victim's mother, who immediately reported the ordeal to the police, which led to this arrest."

According to preliminary investigations, the suspect had started sexually assaulting the victim since February 2015.

Ngoepe added that police investigations for both incidents would continue for now.

Limpopo's acting police commissioner Maj-Gen Bafana Linda condemned these acts of criminality perpetrated against children in the strongest terms.

Linda warned that all perpetrators of such crimes need to "repent immediately, and if not so, we are going to deal with them mercilessly and without compromise".