The boy was found after a massive search by police, relatives and community members. Photo: SABC News.

A four-year-old boy has been found dead and stuffed in a box after he failed to return home from a trip to a corner shop. Thapelo Monageng's family had reported him missing to police on Friday morning in Ikhutseng, Warrenton, South Africa. Officers discovered his lifeless body on Friday night after launching a massive search effort alongside his family and members of the community. He was found in the home of a 36-year-old man, who has been arrested on suspicion of murder, according to reports.

His family said he had suffered multiple stab wounds to the body, with a post-mortem underway. Police spokesman Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba said: "It is reported that the boy was found in a box covered with a blanket at Ikhutseng in Warrenton. It is alleged the boy left his home to go to a local tuck-shop at about 11 am and did not return home. Police followed up on information and the body of the deceased was found at the suspect's house in Ikhutseng."

The arrested man is not related to the youngster, News24 reports.

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The boy's uncle Andrew Sala told SABC News: "We feel very sad because he was a very sweet child."

His auntie Kelebogile Sala added: "We didn't see this coming, Thapelo was very young. His mother is devastated. We are all devastated." 

The arrested man is due to appear in Warrenton Magistrate's Court today.