Self-confessed child rapist Paul Mokgomane Mofokeng has allegedly committed suicide at Johannesburg Prison yesterday.
This was a day after he appeared in the Protea magistrate's court in Soweto on Tuesday on charges of escaping from lawful custody, kidnapping and raping a six-year-old girl.
Mofokeng, 26, allegedly used his shoelaces to hang himself.
Police spokesman Inspector Sanku Tsunke said yesterday: "It is sad to hear that he killed himself. We would have wanted him to go to jail for what he did."
Police say they have opened an inquest docket.
The child's mother said yesterday: "All the fear is over now. I am relieved that he is dead. What he did to my daughter is unbearable. My children and I will be free now.
"My child will return to school as soon as she recovers from the operation. The school has promised to keep space for her."
The Grade 1 pupil is recuperating at home after her womb operation on Friday. She was discharged on Monday from Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital.
It is alleged that Mofokeng lured the girl from outside her home and raped her in his shack for two days in August.
Mofokeng's cousin, George Tokwe, 26, said: "He might have seen that he would spend his whole life in jail. He thought killing himself was the way out."
Tokwe said the family had been living in fear because the community had been threatening to torch their house.
"They accused us of knowing that he had brought the child to the house, which we did not."